Marks and Spencer launched a legal challenge at the High Court last month against Michael Gove’s decision to prevent the UK retailer from rebuilding their Art Deco flagship store in London’s Marble Arch.
M&S claimed that the Communities Secretary had “wrongly” interpreted planning policy. The company announced on Thursday it would be seeking permission to bring a legal review.
Gove reversed a Westminster Council decision last month that had approved plans for the company to renovate the site.
The proposals, which have sparked a debate about the role of the construction industry in decarbonising UK’s economy, would see three existing buildings demolished in order to build a nine-storey building, including an M&S, restaurants, offices, and a gymnasium.
Gove rejected the plans of the company, saying that the project would harm nearby protected landmarks such as the Selfridges department stores and conservation areas and would not support the UK’s ambitious goals to transition to a future with low carbon emissions.
M&S warned that it might leave Oxford Street if the government’s decision was blocked. Stuart Machin is M&S’s chief executive and he called it “utterly pitiful”.
Sacha Berendji said that M&S’s operations director, Sacha Berendji stated on Thursday, that it is “hugely disappointed” that after two years, the retailer has “despite support and approvals in every stage, had not been able to implement its new policy. . . “I was forced to file a lawsuit to defeat a misguided goal”.
He added, “We will challenge this to the maximum extent possible.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities didn’t immediately respond to a comment request.
The High Court does not have to approve the judicial review. If approved, it could take months.
Andrew Keith, Selfridges managing director, described Gove’s choice as “highly disappointed at a moment when investment in Oxford Street is more needed than ever”.
Westminster council saw the project as an important part of their wider ambitions to revitalize Marble Arch in London’s West End, which is home to a number of discount sweet shops and tourist traps.
Henrietta Billings of SAVE Britain’s Heritage said that Gove “made the right choice in rejecting the demolition plan” in response to M&S’s move and called for his department to “resolutely defend” this case.
Conservationists argued in July that M&S hadn’t fully explored alternative demolition methods.
Gary Sector, partner of law firm Addleshaw-Goddard, stated that the case will be closely watched by the industry. Gary Sector, partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, said the case would be watched “very closely” by the industry.