M&S launches appeal against Michael Gove's decision to block Oxford Street redevelopment plans

Mark and Spencer's flagship store on Oxford Street faces an uncertain future Credit: PA

Marks and Spencer has launched a legal challenge against Michael Gove's decision to block the planned development of their flagship Oxford Street store.

Sacha Berendji, operations director at M&S, accused Mr. Gove of misinterpreting planning law and said the company was taking legal action.

He said: “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.

The retailer wants to demolish the Art Deco building and replace it with a new 10-storey building with both retail and office space.

The Levelling Up minister rejected the plans back in July 2023.

Michael Gove said he disagreed that "there is no viable and deliverable alternative" to the demolition of the building, and that the additional floors planned would have a “significantly detrimental impact on the setting of Selfridges” department store nearby.

At the time, Stuart Machin, chief executive of M&S, called Mr. Gove's decision "anti-business" and said, "if it weren't so serious, it would be laughable."

SAVE Britain's Heritage campaigned against the demolition plans. Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage said they believed Michael Gove "made the right decision in dismissing the M&S demolition proposals. We hope that the Secretary of State and his department resolutely defend this case."

"We are considering our next steps and have every intention of maintaining our position," she added.

In July, SAVE called Mr. Gove's decision a "watershed moment" that links the benefits of carbon reduction and heritage for the first time.

Mr. Gove's ruling stated that demolition of the building would "involve much greater embodied carbon than refurbishment.”

The news of M&S's legal challenge comes at a time where the future of Oxford Street remains uncertain. The opening of a new Ikea store has been delayed by almost a year, and isn't expected to open until autumn 2024.

Redevelopment of the almost 2km-long shopping street has long been a hot topic, with Stuart Machin calling the influx of candy and souvenir shops "a national embarrassment."ndon/2023-07-18/will-londons-national-embarrassment-get-a-much-needed-revamp

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...