MicrosoftTeams-image (218)

Source: M&S

The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review of Michael Gove’s decision to block M&S’s Oxford Street store redevelopment plans.

The decision follows a legal challenge by M&S to the levelling up secretary’s rejection of its plans to knock down the 93-year-old art deco building near London’s Marble Arch and replace it with a modern retail and office complex.

The plans were refused by Gove in July on the grounds the public benefits would not outweigh harm to nearby heritage sites, including the Selfridges department store and conservation areas.

M&S launched its legal challenge the following month, arguing Gove had wrongly interpreted and applied planning policy to justify the decision on the grounds of heritage and environmental concerns.

“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,” said M&S CEO Stuart Machin.

“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 and community.”

The next stage in the process will be a Planning Court hearing, likely to take place in January or February next year.

Read more: Has Stuart Machin lost his marbles over Gove’s M&S store plan kibosh?

M&S’s plans for the store had already been approved by Westminster Council when Gove called them in for an inquiry last year, following opposition from heritage and environmental campaigners.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been approached for a comment.