M&S launches legal challenge against Oxford Street flagship decision

31st August 2023 | Jack Oliver

Marks & Spencer has launched a legal challenge against the decision to reject redevelop plans for its flagship Oxford Street store.

The plans for the Marble Arch store involved the demolition of the existing building, which has stood for nearly 100 years.

In July, the secretary of state Michael Gove rejected the proposals on the grounds that the public benefits would not outweigh the harm to local landmarks.

At the time, M&S chief executive Stuart Machin branded the decision as “utterly pathetic”.

In a statement released on Thursday, M&S operations director Sacha Berendji said: “Today we have launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision to reject our Marble Arch store proposal.

“We have done this because we believe the secretary of state wrongly interpreted and applied planning policy, to justify his rejection of our scheme on grounds of heritage and environmental concerns.

“It is hugely disappointing that after two years of support and approvals at every stage, we have been forced to take legal action to overcome a misguided agenda against our scheme, and we will be challenging this to the fullest extent possible.”

Westminster City Council had previously approved proposals for the retailer to knock down the historic store to make way for a new shop, a café, a gym, and offices.

However Michael Gove delayed the ruling after facing pressure from heritage and environmental campaigners who wanted to save the Art Deco building.

The retailer had previously argued that because the building is not listed nor is it in a heritage area, there was no reason the plans should be rejected on heritage grounds.

M&S has previously said that a conversion of the existing building presented serious challenges, with asbestos on the site making any refurbishment a health risk to workers. It also said many parts of the building including its staff area need updating.

In October, M&S threatened to shut down the flagship store at No.458 if its rebuilding plans were refused.


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