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Department stores in England could be given protected status

Jeremy Lim
24 August 2022

Departments stores in England could soon be given protected status following a review of high streets by Historic England.

With the pandemic, economic climate and rising e-commerce contributing to widespread retail closures across the country, many former stores are left vacant or face the risk of demolition.

A Historic England spokesperson told the Guardian: "We are researching the history of department stores to provide a national overview of the key architectural and historic phases of their development

"This is in response to the changes in retailing which have seen stores close and an increase in requests for them to be considered for listing. The work is at an early stage so we don’t yet know if it will lead to any proposals to list further examples."

Earlier this month, the public body awarded Grade-II listing status to a former John Lewis and Cole Brothers building in Sheffield. Other buildings flagged for architectural and historic interest by the organisation include former Debenhams stores in Somerset and Surrey, and Aberdeen’s Norco House, acquired by John Lewis in the 1980s.

The news comes after Marks & Spencer faces further pushback to demolish its Marble Arch flagship and replace it with a much larger 10-storey retail and office block.

The controversial plan came to light when Greater London Authority (GLA) carbon adviser and architect Simon Sturgis wrote a report to Westminster City Council arguing that the project is inconsistent with the UK Government's "net zero" legislation and the GLA's policies.

In June, former communities secretary Michael Gove ordered a public inquiry into the scheme after London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave the green light for the 1929 Edwardian Art Deco building to be replaced.

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