PRESS RELEASE: Major fundraising appeal launched to fight M&S public inquiry
26th July, 2022
Support our crowdfunder and help stop destructive plans
The campaign to stop M&S knocking down its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is set for a showdown this autumn.
SAVE Britain’s Heritage will be leading the case against demolition of this much-loved landmark at a public inquiry – and we need your help.
Fighting public inquiries is an expensive business. Please help us to raise £20,000 towards legal fees and expert witnesses.
The inquiry starts on October 25 and is scheduled to last two weeks. There is no time to lose.
M&S’s destructive plans would release almost 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere immediately, through the demolition of the existing building and raw materials used to build the new one. Carbon emissions emitted today have a larger impact compared to those released in the future, such as through a building's on-going use. This is because today's emissions are in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming for longer. Therefore major new sources of emissions such as the construction of this proposed new scheme are particularly damaging.
Our experts will demonstrate that the M&S building is an eminently suitable candidate for a “deep retrofit” which would bring it up to the highest contemporary standards of sustainability, robustly challenging M&S’s case for demolition and rebuilding from scratch.
The existing Portland stone landmark, with its oxidised panels and pilasters referencing its world-famous neighbour Selfridges, has characterised this prominent corner near Marble Arch for almost a century. There is no reason why it shouldn’t contribute to the Oxford Street townscape for another 100 years. The loss of this handsome building would be extreme and disproportionate, especially in the historic setting of the nearby conservation area.
It is no wonder that Marks and Spencer’s demolition plan caused a huge public outcry. It contradicts local and national environmental policy commitments. M&S trades on its sustainability credentials and these proposals fly in the face of its own 'Plan A' net-zero pledge.
We believe we stand a very strong chance of winning the public inquiry. The new Secretary of State has an opportunity to provide a landmark decision which will change the course of construction.
SAVE is a small independent charity that receives no public funding. We need to raise £20,000 towards legal fees and expert witnesses. We know a great many people care about this building and the implications of knocking it down – so please support and share our crowdfunder.
We have already scored a significant victory in successfully urging the government to “call in” the proposals for a public inquiry. Thank you to everyone who signed our petition or wrote letters. Your voice was heard.
SAVE will be a “rule 6 party” at the inquiry, meaning we will be leading the case against M&S’s plans. We have appointed a barrister and will be fielding expert witnesses to give evidence on heritage, embodied carbon and other arguments.
Now we need YOUR help.
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: “In the face of a climate emergency we have to rethink our disposable attitude to buildings. We are confident we have a strong case and we are looking forward to making our arguments as powerfully as possible at the public inquiry. This is where the fate of this West End landmark will be decided – and it could change the course of construction in the UK.”
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: “SAVE successfully fought two public inquiries to stop the demolition of Smithfield General Market and another to secure the repair and revival of 400 artisans’ houses in Liverpool’s Welsh Streets. We have a first-class team lined up for the M&S inquiry. Please show your support with a donation.”
I'm in! How can I help?
:: Please support and share our crowdfunder HERE.
:: Please also write to the Planning Inspectorate before August 11 making the case that the building should be retained and retrofitted on heritage and environmental grounds. Write to the Secretary of State c/o the case officer firstname.lastname@example.org citing PINS Ref: APP/X5990/V/22/3301508.
You could copy in Cllr Geoff Barraclough at Westminster council email@example.com, the new Secretary of State firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com
Notes to editors:
1. For more information and images contact Elizabeth Hopkirk: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7253 3500.
2. See here for SAVE's press release welcoming the public inquiry.
3. See here for the open letter signed by Kevin McCloud, London Eye designer Julia Barfield and Griff Rhys Jones among others.
4. See here for the sustainability report by Simon Sturgis commissioned by SAVE.
5. SAVE Britain’s Heritage is an independent voice in conservation that fights for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses.