The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Department stores

Marks & Spencer – London

Nominated by: C20
Have C20 acted upon before? yes
Region: London
Former names: Orchard House
Dates from: Orchard House 1929-30 (also Orchard Street extension 1968-70 and Neale House 1983-86)
Built for: J. Lyon’s & Co
Architect: Orchard House - Treharne & Norman with W. A. Lewis and Partners. Built by contractors Thomas and Edge.
Listed: Unlisted
Conservation Area: No. The main building, Orchard House and its extension, is just outside the Portman Estate Conservation Area.

In the 1920s the Portman Estate favoured redevelopment between Orchard Street and Edgware Road and Orchard House – a six storey commercial building on the corner of Oxford Street and Orchard Street – was developed speculatively by J Lyons & Co, the catering business, in 1929-30. The architects were Treharne and Norman (designers of Grade II listed Africa House, Kingsway) with W. A. Lewis and Partners. Marks and Spencers took space in the building on its completion and in 1967 took it wholly over. The growth of Marks and Spencers’ business also led to the building of an extension along Orchard Street in 1968-70 and expansion into the adjacent Oxford Street Neale House in the 1980s by which time the Marble Arch site was its London flagship store. Orchard House is steel-framed and Portland stone clad. Its two facades are of classical form with Ionic pilasters separating large window bays. Horizontally, the metal windows are separated by decorated metal panels. Described by Alan Powers as ‘Neo Grec’ it appears as a sensitive, complementary response to the Grade II* Selfridges building on the other side of Orchard Street.

Over recent decades Marks and Spencer have come under the same competitive pressure from out-of-town centres, online retailing and lately the pandemic that has affected most national chains and department stores and has proposed the demolition of its Marble Arch store and the redevelopment of the site in mixed use, including a new, smaller Marks and Spencers shop. Following a public consultation on the demolition in March 2021 C20 Society indicated its intention to object to demolition and applied to have Orchard House listed but the application was turned down by Historic England in November 2021. A planning application submitted in July 2021 for demolition and construction of a ten-storey mixed use building was approved by Westminster under 21/04502/FULL as the building listing request was rejected. Both C20 Society and SAVE have been active in campaigning for Orchard House with C20 Society’s Director giving an interview to BBC London News on 26 November about the building, the loss of Oxford Street’s architectural heritage and the need to re-purpose rather than demolish.

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