Demolition of M&S flagship by Pilbrow ready for green light | New
Pilbrow & Partners’ proposals to redevelop the flagship Oxford Street branch of Marks & Spencer are expected to be approved by the Westminster council tonight – if members of the planning committee follow the advice of agents.
The practice’s proposals would see the demolition of M & S’s main Orchard House building, which dates back to the 1930s, and two other connected structures, to make way for a new 10-story mixed-use building with retail space, offices and restaurants. An arcade would link Oxford Street to Granville Place to the north of the building.
The new building would have a gross interior area of 60,777 m², almost double the 35,591 m² of floor space provided by the structures it would replace. However, the amount of retail space on the site would be reduced by more than half, from 13,653 m², with office space – to 45,621 m² – becoming the dominant use.
The government’s heritage advisor Historic England has raised concerns about the impact of the project on the nearby Grade II * listed Selfridges department store. She also put together an application for Orchard House, currently awaiting a ministerial decision at the Directorate of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.
However, Westminster planners are advising members of the planning committee to support M&S proposals, pending the outcome of the listing offer.
Earlier this month, Westminster supported proposals designed by PDP in London for the redevelopment of the House of Fraser department store near Oxford Circus, which will see the existing building renovated and expanded to provide six floors of office space above ‘a revamped retail offering.
Planning officials said Pilbrow’s design for the new building was brick with stone detailing and bronze-finished window frames. They said the gently sloping facades towards Oxford Street and Orchard Street “add interest and subtly emphasize new routes through the site”.
The facades of the building are surmounted by a wooden canopy, above which the floors are stepped and present a series of green walls and garden terraces.
“The effect of the arrangement of masses ensures that the apparent height of the building as seen from Oxford Street conforms to that of Grade II * classified Selfridges and the choice of materials is equally sensitive,” they said.
Officers said Pilbrow and M&S explored the potential of retaining the facades of the current Orchard House building, but dismissed the option as possible but undesirable as it would complicate development and decrease the overall quality of the end result. . They added that the other buildings that are part of the site – including the 1980s Neale House on Oxford Street – were architecturally poor.
The report states that the six-story Orchard House was designed by Trehearne & Norman and built speculatively, with M&S taking up space in the basement and part of the ground floor. The distribution giant did not take over the entire building and did not expand its activities north of the site until 1967.
Officers said the facades of Orchard House originally featured a series of sculpted heads based on Lewis Carroll figures. Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the looking glass books. They said most had now been removed, although the white knight’s head remained on the Orchard Street corner of the building, below the clock.
The Westminster Council Planning Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. to consider the request.