M&S begins legal challenge over ‘sustainable’ Marble Arch store

Marks and Spencer kicked off its High Court challenge over the government’s blocking of its Marble Arch store redevelopment plans today (Tuesday 13 February 2024).

The High Court had given M&S the green light to challenge the government, after it rejected the retailer’s initial plans to demolish and rebuild the flagship store due to environmental concerns.

In July, housing and levelling up secretary Michael Gove rejected the plans due to concerns over the environmental impact of demolishing and replacing older buildings, which the retailer’s chief executive Stuart Machin called “senseless”.

Shortly afterwards, M&S launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision to reject its proposal.

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Operations director Sacha Berendji said: “When our proposal to bring one of London’s most sustainable and energy efficient buildings into the heart of the West End is rejected and other schemes with lower sustainability benefits are going ahead, it makes it impossible for developers to interpret planning policy, freezing investment and leading many to ask ‘why bother’, which is a disaster for the economy and the transition to net zero.”

Gove’s decision to reject M&S plans was welcomed by conservation group Save Britain’s Heritage, which said demolishing the building would release 4,000 tonnes of embodied carbon.

“It challenges our laissez faire attitude to demolition and loss as simply being necessary for economic growth and invites us to consider the townscape and environmental consequences,” said Save Britain’s Heritage director Henrietta Billings.

“In the increasingly urgent ‘retrofit’ debate the judgement will stand as an example of how decisions relating to the built environment must be consistent with the reality of the climate emergency.”

Nature and the environmentNewsPropertyRetail

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