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Council rejects Marks & Spencer Marble Arch renovation, CEO speaks out

By Rachel Douglass


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Marks & Spencer's Marble Arch store. Credits: Marks & Spencer.

After what has been a lengthy two-years of back-and-forths, communities secretary Michael Gove has finally decided to refuse permission for Marks & Spencer to demolish its March Arch location.

The retailer had initially been granted permission to knock down the historic building and replace it with a modernised set up, complete with offices and leisure facilities.

However, heightened scrutiny surrounding the plans from environmental groups led to Gove’s involvement, with the British politician now deciding to reject the move based on the premise of potential harm to nearby landmarks, including the Grade II-listed Selfridges building.

Marks & Spencer had also been criticised for its failure to consider the reuse of existing resources, such as renovating existing buildings.

The company’s chief executive officer Stuart Machin expressed his disappointment calling the decision “utterly pathetic”, adding that the retailer had been left to review its position on Oxford Street.

Machin noted that Gove’s refusal was “short-sighted” when 42 of the 269 shops on Oxford street remain vacant, and further highlighted that there were 17 currently approved and proceeding demolitions in Westminster, in contrast.

He continued: “We cannot let Oxford Street be the victim of politics and a wilful disregard of the facts.

“At a time when vacancy rates on what should be the nation’s premier shopping street are 13 percent higher than the average UK high street and Westminster Council is pleading for help in managing the growing proliferation of sweet shop racketeers, the secretary of state has inexplicably taken an anti-business approach, choking off growth and denying Oxford Street thousands of new quality jobs, a better public realm and what would be a modern, sustainable, flag-bearing Marks & Spencer store.”

Marks & Spencer
Oxford Street