Marks & Spencer has been given the green light to take Michael Gove’s decision to block its plans to demolish its flagship store at Marble Arch to judicial review in the latest twist in the long running saga.
The High Court today approved the retailer’s application for judicial review of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary’s “senseless decision” in July to refuse consent for a new development at the site of its 1930s Oxford Street shop next to Selfridges.
The row over the plans has become a huge test case for the debate about whether ageing buildings should be refurbished and have their life extended rather than knocked down and rebuilt to save on the embodied carbon.
In his ruling on the scheme Mr Gove said it would “fail to support the transition to a low carbon future.” However, M&S has threatened to pull out of the western end of Oxford Street altogether in what would be a huge blow to the West End if it does not get its way.
M&S CEO, Stuart Machin said : “We are pleased that the Court has recognised the merits of our legal challenge on every one of the six counts that we raised, and approved our case to proceed to the next stage.
“We have been clear from the very start that the refurbishment of the existing store was not possible, so this is only the first step in the lengthy process of overturning the government’s senseless decision to reject our Marble Arch proposal – the only retail-led regeneration on Oxford Street.
“With our investment and the amazing plans we have to transform the site into a modern, sustainable building it remains bewildering that we are again having to go through this after two years of support and approvals. But we will do everything necessary to secure a better future at Marble Arch for our local customers, colleagues and community.”
But Cam;aign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage said in a statement: "The court has granted permission for the claim to proceed to a two-day hearing. In doing so, the court has accepted that the claim is ‘arguable’. SAVE will continue to defend the claim.”