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Marks & Spencer flagship demolition delayed by General Election

Chloe Burney
10 June 2024

Marks & Spencer’s controversial Oxford Street flagship rebuild is being stalled, with the retailer having to wait months for a decision on plans due to the General Election.

The retailer’s CEO, Stuart Machin, has said that the redevelopment of its Marble Arch store is the right solution, claiming that the current building is "riddled with asbestos".

Last month, M&S said it was hopeful ministers would approve its plans "very, very soon". But the election on 4 July may delay the decision for months after a new government is in place, according to This is Money.

Marks & Spencer was previously permitted to demolish the building and replace it with a new, modern store alongside office and leisure facilities. However, the decision was overturned by Gove on heritage and environmental grounds last year.

There had been objections to the plans to demolish the Art Deco facade from heritage groups and environmental campaigners. Michael Gove said the plans risked compromising other nearby landmarks, such as the Selfridges store built in the early 1900s.

However, Selfridges had previously spoken out in support of Marks & Spencer's plans, saying it would likely drive footfall to the Marble Arch end of London's Oxford Street.

M&S boss Stuart Machin labelled Gove's decision 'utterly pathetic'. He accused him of 'an anti-business approach, choking off growth and denying Oxford Street of thousands of new quality jobs'.

In March, M&S claimed a win when High Court Judge Mrs Justice Lieven agreed with the retailer that Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, had "misinterpreted and wrongly applied planning policy", branding his decision to block the scheme as "unlawful".

This comes after the Mail revealed that Michael Gove's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has spent £141,000 of taxpayers' money on the planning wrangle. The sum of money has been spent on legal fees in the dispute since last year, according to a Freedom of Information disclosure.

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