M&S oxford street

Source: Pilbrow and Partners

The modern-looking proposed redesign plan by Pilbrow and Partners

Marks & Spencer has reportedly vowed to leave its Marble Arch site if the planning application for the bulldozing and redeveloping of its flagship Oxford Street store fails to get public approval.

During a public inquiry that began in Westminster City Council on Tuesday, the retailer – which has filed plans to demolish and rebuild the nearly century-old store – said that refurbishing its existing store would be “unsustainable” and “undeliverable”.

M&S representatives added that the deterioration of Oxford Street retail footfall would “accelerate dramatically” if the retailer were to leave the site, those present at the inquiry heard.

M&S group property, store development and IT director, Sacha Berendji, said: “We’ve been at the Arch for nearly a century and our proposal ensures we’ll remain at the heart of Oxford Street for the next hundred years and beyond.

”Our scheme stands up for the future of Oxford Street, with a forward thinking and sustainable design which adds to the West End’s rich heritage, and is ultimately better for the customers, colleagues and community it serves.”

The two-week inquiry into the controversial planning proposal has begun this week after former communities secretary Michael Gove launched a public review into the Marble Arch redevelopment plan in June when a report on the potential carbon footprint of demolishing the building raised concerns.

The proposal had previously been given the green light earlier this year by the local council and the Greater London Authority, but environmental activists and historic building campaigners alike have been calling for Westminster to review the plans for months.

After Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) stepped in and halted the plans pending further scrutiny, M&S defended the proposals and said the renovation plans would “positively impact the environment” in the long term.

It said that bulldozing the current site, which is made up of three separate buildings “with poor-quality structures and asbestos challenges”, was the most efficient way to tackle its current carbon impact.

Read more: M&S defends Marble Arch store plans after government halts redevelopment

The retailer has also faced backlash from preservation campaigners, who have claimed the proposed new building would also massively affect the architectural landscape of the adjacent Oxford Street area, including neighbouring department store Selfridges.

However Selfridges’ new owners, the Thai conglomerate Central Group and the Austrian real estate company Signa Holding, have recently backed M&S’s planning application.


In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate overseeing the inquiry, Selfridges said it “supports and endorses” the redevelopment of its neighbour as a way to see Oxford Street maintain its status as one of the world’s most attractive retail shopping areas.

Save Britain’s Heritage, which has spearheaded a prolific campaign arguing for the proposals to flatten the 1920s building to be scrapped, is the main party squaring against M&S at the Westminster inquiry.

If the council gives M&S the green light, the new site at 458 Oxford Street will feature a brand new store along with office space and a gym.

The grocer said the new Marble Arch design was the culmination of over two years’ collaboration with Westminster City Council, the Greater London Authority and the local business and resident community.

“There is a great deal of local support for our proposals,” Berendji said back in May.