Selfridges lends its support to Marks & Spencer Marble Arch plan
Selfridges has voiced its support for the proposed redevelopment of Marks & Spencer Marble Arch, which has come up against resistance from environmental and historic building campaigners.
Marks & Spencer has submitted a proposal to demolish the store and covert it into a model multi-use site which will incorporate offices and leisure facilities, as well as retail space.
Campaigners argue that the existing building should be repurposed and among the high profile names to oppose M&S's plans are author Bill Bryson who is best known for Notes from a Small Island and A Short History of Nearly Everything, has also donated £500 to Save Britain’s Heritage’s campaign group.
The donation will be used to cover the group's legal costs in in opposing M&S at the inquiry that will be held this week. Bryson told the Architect's Journal: “I believe it would be a great shame to tear down the M&S building. I have no special knowledge or insights about the matter. I just wish to help stop a bit of foolishness.”
Other opponents include the Stirling prize winner Steve Tompkins and Mark Hines, the project director for the remodelling of BBC Broadcasting House.
However Selfridges' new owners the Thai conglomerate Central Group and the Austrian real estate company Signa Holding have written to the Westminster Council Planning Inspectorate backing the plans, according to report in The Guardian.
In the letter, they say that M&S's plans will help in “maintaining Oxford Street as the UK’s national shop window”.
The former communities secretary Michael Gove announced an inquiry into the future of M&S’s store near Marble Arch in June and that inquiry begins today and runs for the next two weeks.
M&S has argued that a refurbishment of the 100-year-old building is not feasible nor sustainable. It claims the new development will use only a quarter of the existing building's energy.