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Mayor u-turns on M&S flagship demolition following backlash

Camilla Rydzek
04 April 2022

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has u-turned on his decision to wave through M&S' application to demolish its Oxford Street flagship store, following backlash from the public.

The retailer's proposal to demolish the 1930s building and replace it with a new, 10-storey structure was approved by Westminster Council in November 2021.

Following the initial proposal by M&S, architect and GLA climate adviser Simon Sturgis published a critical report in January voicing concern on the project's high upfront carbon emissions of 40,000 tons.

M&S had previously said that the new building would be more carbon efficient than the existing one and would compensate for the carbon emissions by re-purposing 90% of the original buildings materials.

As more backlash ensued, a spokesperson for the the Mayor has confirmed that he will review his previous decision to wave through the planning application and will now take Sturgis' report into account. The spokesperson added that this was because of the Greater London Authority's (GLA) own guidance on carbon emissions and the circular economy.

Khan will review an updated planning report today, whilst M&S is in discussions with the relevant authorities.

Under its original plans M&S would occupy two and a half floors rather than five, making space for offices on the top floors.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, said: "In line with London Plan policy on Whole Life Carbon, the question of retention and refurbishment or demolition and new build was considered in the GLA’s assessment of this application, and based on officer advice that there was no sound planning reason to intervene, on 7 March the Mayor made the decision to allow Westminster to determine the application.

"However, City of Westminster is yet to issue its planning decision, and the GLA has now published its planning guidance on Whole Life Carbon and Circular Economy. In light of this situation GLA officers consider it would be prudent to consider a further Stage 2 report, which would also allow consideration of the detailed report by Simon Sturgis examining the carbon emissions impacts of the proposed demolition."

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