By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter
Marks and Spencer could face a huge fight against plans to bulldoze and revamp its iconic Oxford Street store.
Campaigners are planning to challenge the plans at a public inquiry and have started raising a £20,000 legal fund.
SAVE Britain’s Heritage will go head-to-head with Marks and Spencer at a two-week public inquiry in October to try and stop it from bulldozing the 1920s building.
Marks and Spencer hopes to build a new, modern store in its place but plans have been put on hold by the Government.
Approval was previously given to the new building by Westminster City council and the Greater London Authority.
But leading architects and sustainability specialists have lined up to try and save the art deco building, and their crowdfunding appeal to cover legal costs has already raised more than £7,000.
Architects have also submitted expert evidence to the public inquiry.
Engineer and University of Cambridge academic Dr Alice Moncaster said: “The embodied carbon of new buildings is far higher than that of deep retrofit.
“The proposed demolition [of the M&S building] and new construction will emit many thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, increasing our impact on climate change.
“Retrofitting the existing building up to equivalent energy standards would emit considerably less carbon. I therefore urge you to refuse this application.”
The doctor, who also advises the UK Parliament and International Energy Agency, added: “It is commercially viable to retrofit such a building, as demonstrated by the fact that similar projects are happening elsewhere in the UK.
“One such is the Rylands building in Manchester, a 1930s building most recently occupied by Debenhams which is being refurbished and extended. The M&S building should not be demolished and replaced, but should be refurbished.”
Mark Hines, the architect responsible for transforming the BBC’s Broadcasting House, said: “We all need to get used to the idea that creating new architecture uses vast amounts of energy.
“As we face up to the challenges of achieving net zero targets, M&S have a tremendous opportunity to lead the way and let their corporate values shine through in their architecture.
“A thoughtful refurbishment of their own landmark Oxford Street store would show their customers the true value of our existing buildings in the 21st century and how they can be transformed.”
Marks and Spencer has been contacted for comment.
The M&S building at Marble Arch (Picture: Google Street View)
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