Gove delays M&S Oxford Street demolition ruling until July

27th April 2023 | Lisa Pilkington

Michael Gove has delayed his decision on the proposed demolition of Marks & Spencer’s flagship store on London’s Oxford Street for three months.

The levelling up, housing & communities secretary was due to make a ruling on Pilbrow + Partners’ plans to demolish and rebuild the M&S store, which sits close to Marble Arch, ‘on or before 3 May.’

But the DLUHC has said that ‘further time is required’ for the secretary of state to consider the case and that a final decision will now be issued ‘on or before 20 July, 2023’, adding: ‘We aim to issue the decision as quickly as possible.’

A two-week long planning enquiry took place last November which saw M&S go head to head with advocacy organisation SAVE Britain’s Heritage. M&S wants to flatten its existing, outdated store and has proposed replacing it with a new flagship store, along with a 10-storey office block, an arcade, a cafe and a gym.

However, this sparked a public row due to heritage and environmental concerns. Opponents of the project have asked the company to renovate the existing buildings at 458 Oxford Street rather than demolish them. Despite strong opposition, M&S has said that it is ‘unsustainable’ to continue trading in its current premises.

At the time of the public inquiry, Matthew Fraser of SAVE, said: “The heritage impacts have been considerably underestimated by M&S and are not outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme.”

The retailer’s threat to close its flagship store “if they don’t get their way,” according to Fraser, was “not the constructive attitude of a retailer committed to the future of Oxford Street.”

Fraser also said the construction of the new building would release nearly 40,000 tonnes of CO2 (40m kg) into the atmosphere, which would be “the equivalent of driving a typical car 99 million miles, further than the distance to the sun.” However, M&S has previously stated that the new, more environmentally friendly building will eventually offset any carbon impact caused by the demolition.

Conservationists, led by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, believed that flattening the ‘handsome’ 1929-built landmark building, which sits next to the Grade II star-listed Selfridges, would leave Oxford Street ‘unrecognisable’ without one of its original buildings.

M&S’ proposals made the national headlines last June, prompting Gove to order a planning inquiry to assess whether Westminster Council was right to grant planning consent for the proposals and whether they were in keeping with planning guidelines in respect of heritage and the historic environment.


Looking for more retail news? you might find these interesting