Retail giant accused of ‘greenwashing on an epic scale’

Save Britain’s Heritage has accused Marks & Spencer of making “a number of false claims” in a press release following the conclusion of a public inquiry into the retail giant’s plans to demolish its flagship Oxford Street store and replace it with a new building.

The campaign group, which was the main party opposing the redevelopment scheme drawn up by architect Pilbrow & Partners, said M&S had wrongly suggested Save accepted its position on several matters related to sustainability.

A letter sent by Save’s legal team to M&S chairman Archie Norman accused the firm of making “highly irresponsible statements” that were likely to cause serious harm to the campaign group’s reputation.

marks and spencer

M&S’s Marble Arch branch, pictured left, is slated for demolition under the retailer’s plans

The letter says: “The defamatory statements misrepresent the differences between Save and M&S’ sustainability analysis, claim that Save accept M&S’ position on the long-term sustainability benefits of the scheme, and misrepresent the evidence of Mr Simon Sturgis.”

Sturgis was Save’s expert witness on embodied carbon and sustainability.

M&S’ press release contained the line: “During the course of the inquiry, Save accepted M&S’ sustainability analysis and that of our independent experts Arup, a significant move on their part.”

Save director Henrietta Billings said sustainability remained a central plank in the group’s case against M&S’ plans to redevelop the Orchard House building – better known as the Marble Arch branch.

“M&S’ press release was deliberately misleading and inaccurate,” she said. “We see it as a cynical attempt to harm the reputation of Save. Their statement appears to be an attempt to shift the focus away from the colossal environmental impact that the demolition and rebuild of the Marble Arch store will have in terms of C02 compared with a deep retrofit alternative. This is greenwashing on an epic scale.”

Marks & Spencer Marble Arch Pilbrown plan

Source: Pilbrow

Proposals to demolish the Marks & Spencer store at Marble Arch and replace it with this 10-storey office and retail block have met with fierce opposition

An M&S spokesperson said the business stood by its post-inquiry statement.

“We are proud of our plans to deliver a bold, sustainable and innovative Marble Arch site which is the only viable and deliverable option and the sole retail-led regeneration on the nation’s most famous, but challenged, high street,” they said.

“We remain fully confident in the accuracy of our statement shared after the close of the inquiry.”

Planning inspector David Nicholson presided over the public inquiry into the M&S proposals, which concluded on Friday. He is due to make his recommendation to government within four months.