M&S Marble Arch

Proposals to demolish and rebuild the site including the 90-year-old flagship store was approved by the council planning sub committee yesterday evening.

However the project is still waiting to be green-lit pending a review by the Mayor of London and the GLA.

There will also be a separate review into whether to grant Orchard House “listed” status and therefore prevent its demolition, to be conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Andrew Turton, Director of Marks and Spencer said: “The proposals seek to cement our presence on the high street. It is quite something to be here presenting a development that we believe delivers so much in terms of regeneration through redevelopment of three buildings, with all the benefit of retail activation, public realm improvements, urban greening, magnificence in terms of design yet sympathetic and subservient to Selfridges.

“Just as important for us is to get that significant relationship to Marks and Spencer that is Marble Arch.”

The retailer will have to contribute £2 million in costs to the local council, £1.2 million towards a carbon offset charge and the remaining £816,278 for the Westminster Employment service.

Planning sub committee chair, Councillor Robert Rigby praised the plans as ambitious and stressed the importance of the Marks and Spencer in Britain’s busiest High Street.

He said: “This application really does stand out.

“Marks and Spencer is a key brand on the High Street and one that we need to encourage.

“Oxford Street is changing, so applications need to adapt and what we see in front of us is a good example of this.”

MARKS AND SPARKLING: The new development will nearly double the total retail space with potential for a basement gym, and a target lifetime of 120 years. Credit: Marks and Spencer.

Despite being referred to as its “flagship” store the building was not built specifically for Marks and Spencer.

The site consists of three buildings consisting of 177,000 sq ft of retail space, including Orchard House, which was built in 1929 by architects Trehearne and Norman.

The new project will deliver up to 500sqm of additional land space including a public thoroughfare leading to an open oasis, dubbed “St Michaels Square” after one of the retailer’s founders and namesake to its original clothing line.

The decision, which was passed by councillors 5 to 1, was also supported by the New West End Company, which particularly welcomed the 2000 jobs created on site.

Jace Tyrrell, its CEO said: “We very much welcome M&S’s plans for their Marble Arch store which really represents a catalyst for the reinvention of the west end of Oxford Street and in fact the wider Oxford street district.

“The New West End Company are in full support of the application.”

Some concerns however were raised on the scheme’s green credentials, which is estimated to produce 39,500 tons of carbon, only offset by approximately 2.4 million trees, although 90% of the existing buildings is to be recycled.

It comes as the Council has committed to saving 1700 tons of carbon a year by retrofitting its buildings.

Councillor Geoff Barraclough, the only committee member to oppose the application defended the present building.

He said: “I think there is merit in Orchard House, particularly the way it sits with Selfridges to be reflective to it.

“I think the new building is the reverse. It’s overbearing and overshadows Selfridges and it’s very large.

“As you have heard I am not happy with aspects of this.”

Work on 458 Oxford Street is expected to start in 2023 and will be completed in 2027.

Main image credit: manchesterhistory.net

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