M&S refused permission to demolish and re-build Oxford Street store

Oxford Street London

On 20 July 2023, the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities dismissed a called-in application by Marks & Spencer (“M&S”) to demolish their existing flagship store on Oxford Street and build a larger building for a new store with offices above.

The application had the support of Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London. At the request of conservation charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage (“SAVE”) and others, the Secretary of State called the application in for his own determination.

A two-week public inquiry took place in October – November 2022. The Council invited the Inspector to recommend approval of the application. SAVE was granted “Rule 6” status to oppose the scheme.

The two main issues were: (1) whether the public benefits of the scheme would outweigh any harm to heritage assets; and (2) the effect of the scheme on the UK’s transition to a zero-carbon economy, with particular regard to the scheme’s sustainability and its whole life carbon assessment.

In his report dated 1 February 2023, the Inspector, David Nicholson, recommended approval of the development. However, in his decision letter dated 20 July 2023, the Secretary of State disagreed and refused planning permission.

The Secretary of State’s decision letter and the Inspector’s report are available here.

Russell Harris KC and Heather Sargent acted for M&S.

Matthew Fraser acted for SAVE.

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