M&S CEO, Stuart Machin, has said plans to redevelop the retailers flagship Marble Arch store are “in the deep freeze” as Michael Gove has rejected the scheme.
As the plans would see the Art Deco building on London’s Oxford Street demolished, the Communities Secretary blocked the proposals over concerns that public benefits would not outweigh the harm to nearby landmarks and conservation areas.
However, Machin has branded the decision as “utterly pathetic” and “laughable.”
“When 42 of the 269 shops on what should be our nation’s premier shopping street sit vacant, disregarding the expert opinion and approval of the appointed planning inspector, and playing to the gallery by kiboshing the only retail-led regeneration proposal is a short-sighted act of self-sabotage by the Secretary of State and its effects will be felt far beyond M&S and the West End.”
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The proposals were also blocked as a result of the scheme’s carbon footprint and its failure to reuse existing sources, such as converting the current buildings.
However, Machin said it is “unfathomable why M&S’ proposal to redevelop an aged and labyrinithian site that has been twice denied listed status has been singled out for refusal.”
He added that basing the decision on the grounds of sustainability is “nonsensical.”
“Our proposed building would have ranked in the top 1% of the entire city’s most sustainable buildings,” he explained, adding that it would have used less than a quarter of the energy of the existing structure, reduced water consumption by over half and delivered a carbon payback within 11 years of construction.
“We have been clear from the outset that there is no other viable scheme – so, after almost a century at Marble Arch, M&S is now left with no choice but to review its future position on Oxford Street on the whim of one man. It is utterly pathetic,” Machin said.