M&S’ Oxford Street demolition blocked by Government

Michael Gove has invoked an Article 31 holding direction so the local authority cannot grant planning permission for the redevelopment until the Government has inspected the plans

Marks and Spencer’s (M&S) plans for the demolition of its Marble Arch flagship on Oxford Street has been paused by Michael Gove so that ministers can scrutinise the plans. 

According to the Evening Standard, the communities secretary blocked the plans using an Article 31 holding direction, meaning the local authority cannot grant planning permission for the controversial redevelopment until the Government has inspected the plans. 

Gove will review the project and decide whether to call in the application to take the decision out of the council’s hands, or conclude that local councillors can decide the application itself. 

M&S wants to replace its Edwardian store next to Selfridges with a 10-storey building, which will include an office space and a gym above a smaller shop and a new pedestrian arcade.

However, concerns have been raised about the carbon footprint of the project which will see the nearly 100-year-old landmark knocked down. 

The decision comes following a report for Save Britain’s Heritage by carbon expert Simon Sturgis who said that a comprehensive refurbishment was the better option compared to a demolition.

The news comes despite Sadiq Khan deciding last week that the redevelopment can go ahead in the face of environmental concerns.

The Evening Standard said Khan was “content” that the carbon footprint of the demolition had been considered from an early stage and referred it back to Westminster council for final approval.

An M&S spokesperson told Retail Sector: “The plans we have submitted to build a new, vibrant M&S store fit for modern retail and sustainable office space has been approved at every stage and strongly supported by the local community as a key part of the regeneration of an iconic part of London.

“As well as attracting new investment and footfall, a detailed assessment on the carbon impact across the whole lifecycle of the building was undertaken by independent experts who concluded that the new build offered significant sustainability advantages over a refurbishment.”

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