Westminster City Council has approved Marks & Spencer’s plans for a new flagship retail and office development on Oxford Street. Ten storeys high, the new building embodies 39,500 tonnes of carbon.
To put this figure in perspective, last week Westminster Council announced a £13m project to retrofit its own buildings to save 1,700 tonnes of CO2 per year. This week’s decision wipes out the next 23 years of these carbon savings in one stroke.
The new M&S does use less carbon than the current one, but it will take 15/16 years for the ongoing savings to make up for the upfront 39,500 tonnes. That’s great news for the 2040s but no use tackling the climate emergency today.
If M&S is determined to go ahead with the new building, we urge them use the low carbon construction techniques recommended by their own consultants. These include replacing 50% of cement with ground granulated blast furnace slag and using structural steel from electric arc furnaces.
Councillor Geoff Barraclough, shadow cabinet member for planning, said:
“The new M&S building is so huge that it would take the planting of 2.4 million trees to offset the CO2 generated in its construction. If Marks & Spencer is serious about zero carbon, it needs to rethink its plans and retrofit its buildings, not demolish them. If M&S insist on ploughing ahead with their plans they must require the lowest carbon techniques possible, as recommended by their own consultant, which could reduce the wait to achieve carbon savings down to 7 years.”