By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter
The High Court has approved a judicial review of Michael Gove’s decision to block the redevelopment of M&S’ flagship Marble Arch store.
The appeal will now go before a Planning Court for a two-day hearing in January or February.
Confirming the decision on X, M&S boss Stuart Machin said the court had “recognised the merits of our legal challenge” to redevelopment the Marble Arch store.
He wrote: “Every single one of the six counts we raised has been recognised, which means our case has been approved to proceed to the next stage of Judicial Review.
“We have been clear from the very start that refurbishment of the existing store is 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.”
Conservation charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage said it would continue to defend its opposition to the plans.
In a statement, they said: “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.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is reportedly carefully considering the legal challenge but a spokesperson said the department is unable to comment on an ongoing litigation. Westminster City council said it would not comment at this stage.
The central London council originally approved M&S’ plans to tear down the Marble Arch store and replace it with a modernised shop featuring a new café, offices and a gym in 2021. But the decision was met with resistance from campaigners which prompted the secretary of state to launch an inquiry and eventually block the proposals in July.
At the time, a Government report raised concerns that its public benefits were offset by the potential harm to nearby heritage landmarks and criticised the environmental impact of the redevelopment.
Mr Gove found that additional storeys of offices would be more apparent than the current site and have a “significantly detrimental impact on the setting of Selfridges” department store nearby.
The carbon footprint and failure to reuse some existing resources was also considered a reason for permission to be blocked. Mr Machin said at the time that the decision was “utterly pathetic” and meant the company would have review its future on the historic shopping street.
Pictured top: CGI of the M&S’ plans to revamp its Marble Arch store which were rejected by Michael Gove in July (Picture: Westminster City council)
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