M&S wins High Court battle over Gove’s Oxford Street decision


Today’s judgement reopens the possibility that the retailer may demolish and replace the building.

The communities secretary refused the plans last July, citing both heritage and design concerns over Pilbrow & Partners’ 10-storey replacement scheme at Marble Arch – as well as its em،ied carbon impact.

M&S said it would appeal to the High Court on procedural grounds and today (1 March) scored a comprehensive legal victory, a decision which means Gove will have to redetermine the case.

During the two-day hearing last month (13-14 February) – which involved objector SAVE Britain’s Heritage and Westminster Council as well as M&S and the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities – the retailer had to prove to the High Court not that the government’s decision was wrong, but rather that Michael Gove had made an error in his decision-making.

In her judgment released today, Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that M&S had succeeded in five out of six grounds for appeal, a serious repudiation of Gove’s reasoning. She dismissed the sixth ground, which concerned the heritage reasons behind his decision, such as the impact of the proposed development of neighbouring Selfridges store and the Stratford Place conservation area.

However, the planning decision would have gone back to the Secretary of State if even one out of the six grounds of appeal had been upheld.

Because of the up-front carbon cost of new construction, the M&S plan would release almost 40,000 tonnes of em،ied carbon into the atmosphere. Gove specifically highlighted this impact in his decision, so،ing raised extensively by the AJ’s RetroFirst campaign and by SAVE Britain’s Heritage at the public inquiry into the proposal.

However, in her judgement on the first ground, Justice Lieven said that Gove had erred in claiming that paragraph 152 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)  meant there was a ‘strong presumption in favour of repurposing and reusing buildings’.

She wrote: ‘The Secretary of State relied on a meaning of the NPPF which is simply not open to him. There is in paragraph 152 some encouragement for the reuse of buildings, but nothing that comes close to a presumption.’

Responding to the ruling, a Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: ‘We acknowledge the judgement and are considering our next steps. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’

M&S, Pilbrow & Partners, SAVE, and Westminster City Council have all been approached for comment.

The grounds for challenge and Justice Lieven’s rulings

  • Ground One – the Secretary of State (SoS) erred in respect of paragraph 152 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) when he said in DL 24 that there is a “strong presumption in favour of repurposing and reusing buildings”; [M&S succeeds]
  • Ground Two – the SoS erred in respect of the consideration of alternatives; [M&S succeeds]
  • Ground Three – the SoS erred in the balance of public benefits as a،nst the heritage impacts; [M&S succeeds]
  • Ground Four – the SoS’s conclusion on the harm to the vitality and viability of Oxford Street, had no evidential basis; [M&S succeeds]
  • Ground Five – the SoS made an error of fact in respect of the em،ied carbon, and misapplied policy in respect of em،ied carbon; [M&S succeeds]
  • Ground Six – the SoS erred in his approach to ،ysing the impact of the proposals on the setting of Selfridges and the Stratford Place Conservation Area. [M&S fails]

Source:Pilbrow & Partners, Justin Piperger P،tography and Wadsworth3D

Visualisation of Pilbrow & Partners’ blocked M&S Oxford Street proposal looking east

منبع: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/ms-wins-high-court-battle-over-goves-oxford-street-decision