M&S under fire for ‘ugly’ Oxford Street redevelopment

Marks & Spencer has been criticised for planning to replace its flagship London store with “ugly spreadsheet architecture”.

The retailer admitted it would need to plant millions of trees to offset the redevelopment’s carbon footprint.

According to The Telegraph, opposition has grown since plans to tear down the Marble Arch site were voted through by Westminster City Council on Tuesday night.

The Oxford Street complex, home to the 1930s Orchard House building, is expected to make way for a modern branch as part of Marks & Spencer’s “transformation” attempts.

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“It is a rather lovely building and a really interesting example of inter-war architecture,” Nicholas Boys Smith, founder of research institute Create Streets, said.

“They will replace it with ugly spreadsheet buildings, completely repetitive, with no complexity, no coherence, no texture. 

“It doesn’t say to me, ‘Oxford Street’. It could be anywhere from Singapore to San Francisco.”

The retailer will occupy two and a half floors rather than the five currently in use, with office space filling the upper levels.

Shadow business minister Geoff Barraclough believes Orchard House complements the Grade II Selfridges building nearby. 

“The new building is the reverse: it’s overbearing and overshadows Selfridges, and it’s very large,” he argued.

Marks & Spencer calculates the redevelopment will produce 39,500 tonnes of carbon, which would require 2.4 million trees to offset.

However, it claimed the new building would have a higher sustainability rating than the current one. 

Store development director Sacha Berendji, who once managed the Marble Arch location, said the move will “positively contribute to our net zero targets over the long term”. 

The building will reportedly take around 16 years to make up for its damage to the environment.

“That’s great news for the 2040s but no use tackling the climate emergency today,” Barraclough said.

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