Michael Gove Sadiq Khan Britain city Westminster UPS Citi Michael Gove Sadiq Khan Britain city Westminster

Michael Gove orders inquiry into M&S Oxford Street rebuild over CO2 concerns

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Michael Gove has ordered a public inquiry into Marks & Spencer’s plan to demolish and rebuild its flagship Oxford Street store after campaigners claimed it would release 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.Westminster city council approved the scheme to tear down the 90-year-old store near Marble Arch, but the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities has called in the development plan amid growing calls for the reuse of buildings that embody large amounts of carbon.However, Marks & Spencer hit back at Gove’s “political grandstanding”, insisting that in the long term the more energy-efficient new building “will more than offset any emissions from the redevelopment”.In a sign that climate change considerations are increasingly important to planning decisions, Gove has tasked an inspector with determining if the scheme is consistent with national planning policy, citing a chapter that states: “the planning system should support the transition to a low-carbon future … [and] shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”.In November 2021, Gove rejected plans for a viewing tower in the City of London designed by Lord Foster, complaining about the “highly unsustainable concept of using vast quantities of reinforced concrete”.The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, decided not to intervene over the M&S application considering that it was in line with the capital’s planning strategy.The campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage and magazine Architects’ Journal organised a letter to Gove, signed by several leading architects, which argued that the existing building should be retrofitted rather than demolished.It described it as “a development which is environmentally wasteful,

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