SAVE: Open letter to Michael Gove

 

Leading figures in the worlds of heritage, built environment and the arts have signed an open letter to the Communities Secretary urging him to “call in” M&S’s proposals to demolish its historic Marble Arch store.

The letter, signed by people including Bennetts Associates Co-founder Rab Bennetts, Kevin McCloud, Sarah Wigglesworth. Julia Barfield and Griff Rhys Jones among others, was initiated by SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Architects’ Journal after Michael Gove suspended Westminster Council’s planning approval last month pending a review by his department. M&S wants to bulldoze its flagship 1929 art deco store on Oxford Street and replace it with a much larger 10-storey retail and office block.

The letter to Michael Gove says: 

"We now urge you to hold a public inquiry into these proposals which would unnecessarily pump nearly 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. In contrast to the slow release of carbon from existing buildings, these emissions would be released immediately because of the vast quantity of raw materials required such as steel and concrete."

 

The letter makes the case that with design ingenuity the building's life could be extended by another 100 years or more.

"We believe the overall strategy for this site is wrong, with a development which is environmentally wasteful, destroys an elegant and important interwar building and, many feel, negatively affects Oxford Street and its wider West End neighbourhood. We should be adapting the building, not destroying it."

Read the full open letter here.