Bill Bryson slams M&S Oxford Street building plans

There are calls for the building to be retrofitted instead of being knocked down and rebuilt

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M&S plans to flatten its Oxford Street store, with more shoppers going online – a move that has been heavily criticised by author Bill Bryson and architect Steve Tompkins.

This is because many are calling for the building to be retrofitted and refurbished, rather than demolished and rebuilt.

Taking these actions limits the carbon footprint of changing a building’s appearance or design, as it doesn’t render old materials obsolete or require new materials to be sourced.

Bryson has donated £500 towards the group Save Britain’s Heritage, which is spearheading the campaign against this decision.

This group commissioned a report by architect Simon Sturgis, who specialises in net zero construction – which found that the M&S project does not comply with governmental net zero standards.

M&S argues that its new building would cut energy use, however, with Stuart Machin, Co-Chief Executive, stating: “Our investment will deliver far more than carbon reduction.

“It will be a better place for our customers to shop, a better place for our colleagues to work and a better public realm for our community. Today and tomorrow.”

In declaring his support for the retrofitting campaign, Bryson told Architect’s Journal: “I believe it would be a great shame to tear down the M&S building. I have no special knowledge or insights about the matter. I just wish to help stop a bit of foolishness.”

Architect Steve Tompkins added: “Number 458 Oxford Street is a handsome piece of urban architecture, made with high-quality durable materials.

“It is a successful component of the wider streetscape and a familiar London landmark. For these reasons, the building appears to be an entirely suitable candidate for deep retrofitting.”