Campaigners step up efforts to prevent M&S Marble Arch demolition
M&S can expect yet more opposition to its long-running bid to demolish and rebuild its flagship Marble Arch, London, store from this autumn.
Heritage campaigners have started crowdfunding to foil the retailer’s plans to turn the 1929 store — which M&S claims has “asbestos throughout” — into a 10-storey eco flagship, with office space and a gym.
A two-week public inquiry in October will assess the positives and negatives of the scheme, as government ministers have deemed the plan to be of more than local importance.
Save Britain’s Heritage hopes to raise the £20,000 required for legal fees, with the group planning to argue that the building can be retro-fitted rather than completely razed.
M&S boss Stuart Machin said in the Daily Telegraph that a green light for the plans would help to innovate the West End shopping destination, which he said was running the risk of becoming a “dinosaur district destined for extinction”.
He dubbed the current structure “a confusing warren of dense structures and misaligned floors,” and said a new site would use less than a quarter of the energy of the present building.
Blueprints were a “bit like replacing a polluting petrol or diesel car with a new electric vehicle,” Machin wrote.
However, Save Britain has claimed the proposals would “unnecessarily pump nearly 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere” as well as seeing the disappearance of “an elegant and important interwar building.”
“In the face of a climate emergency we have to rethink our disposable attitude to buildings,” Henrietta Billings, director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said.
“[The inquiry] is where the fate of this West End landmark will be decided – and it could change the course of construction in the UK.”
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