The Mayor of London considers demolition plan for M&S Oxford St

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The AJ this morning (April 1) revealed a dispute over waving through the mayor’s plans, designed by architect Pilbrow & Partners, to build Marks & Spencer’s flagship 1930s Oxford Street store despite an upfront cost of 40,000 tonnes to tear down and replace from embodied carbon.

The decision had sparked fury after it emerged that a highly critical report by architect and GLA climate advisor Simon Sturgis – who warned that Pilbrow’s 10-story project was in direct conflict with planning policy – was disregarded by the mayor’s team, though it was submitted to the GLA several times in the weeks before the decision was made.

Now a spokesman for Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the planning decision, known as the Phase 2 report, will be re-examined. They said this would include considering the Sturgis report and was based on the GLA’s latest guidance on Lifelong Carbon and the Circular Economy.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “In line with the London Plan’s Whole Life Carbon policy, the issue of retain and refurbishment or demolition and rebuild has been addressed in the GLA’s assessment of this application and based on the advice of officials there considering there was no reasonable planning reason for intervention, the Mayor made the decision on 7 March to allow Westminster to decide the application.

“However, the City of Westminster is yet to issue its planning decision and the GLA has now published its Whole Life Carbon and Circular Economy planning guidance. Given this situation, GLA officials believe it prudent to consider another Phase 2 report, which would also allow consideration of Simon Sturgis’ detailed report examining the impact of the proposed demolition on carbon emissions will. An updated Phase 2 report will be submitted for consideration at the mayors meeting on Monday April 4th.’

The spokesperson added that the mayor sees tackling the climate crisis as an “urgent priority”, citing his declaration of a climate emergency in 2018, ahead of most other local authorities, and his commitment to net-zero London by 2030.

They added: “The Mayor’s commitment is driven by the sustainable policy in the London Plan with the requirement that all new buildings be zero carbon.”

Sturgis’ report had warned that Pilbrow’s demolition and replacement program was in direct conflict with planning policies, including the GLA’s own stated policy of prioritizing retrofitting.

Sturgis himself – the co-author of the GLA’s lifetime carbon policy – had cited criticism of the mayor’s original decision, including calling into question Khan’s climate leadership.

“It seems that the mayor isn’t really serious about reaching the climate targets he has set himself, or net zero by 2050,” he had said.

“Given the climate crisis and the need to change direction [on development and construction], many local authorities say they want to reach net zero faster than the central government. But they just don’t deliver. This is business as usual.’

Existing M&S building at Marble Arch

Source: Shutterstock Ana Moskvina