M&S wins Marble Arch retrofit legal battle as Gove’s decision branded ‘unlawful’

The High Court has ruled that Michael Gove’s decision to block M&S’ redevelopment plans of its Marble Arch flagship branch was “unlawful”.

M&S launched a planning appeal last month, following the secretary of state’s decision to reject plans that would see the Art Deco building on London’s Oxford Street demolished and replaced with a newly-built 10-storey shopping complex.

Gove had initially rejected the plans due to concerns over the environmental impact of demolishing and replacing the Marble Arch building because it would “fail to support the transition to a low carbon future”, a move which the retailer’s chief executive Stuart Machin called “senseless”.

The High Court judge agreed with M&S that Gove had “misinterpreted and wrongly applied planning policy” by blocking its development proposals. The issue will now return to parliament, where Gove will have to make a further decision on whether to approve the plans or not.


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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.”

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

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