M&S wins high court challenge after Oxford Street demolition blocked

1st March 2024 | Jack Oliver

Marks & Spencer has won a high court victory over a decision to block the retailer’s plans to tear down its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

The secretary of state for Levelling Up Michael Gove rejected the proposals in June last year 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”, with the retailer launching its legal challenge in August.

The Marble Arch store has stood for nearly 100 years.

Following the high court decision announced on Friday morning, M&S operations director, Sacha Berendji, said: “Today’s judgment couldn’t be clearer, the court has agreed with our arguments on five out of the six counts we brought forward and ruled that the secretary of state’s decision to block the redevelopment of our Marble Arch store was unlawful. The result has been a long, unnecessary and costly delay to the only retail-led regeneration on Oxford Street which would deliver one of London’s greenest buildings, create thousands of new jobs and rejuvenate the capital’s premier shopping district.

“The secretary of state now has the power to unlock the wide-ranging benefits of this significant investment and send a clear message to UK and global business that the government supports sustainable growth and the regeneration of our towns and cities.”

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 wished 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.

M&S had threatened to shut down the flagship store in November 2022 if its rebuilding plans were refused.


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