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Michael Gove Refuses Planning Permission to Demolish M&S Oxford Street Store

Michael Gove Refuses Planning Permission to Demolish M&S Oxford Street Store
21 July 2023

Plans to demolish and rebuild M&S’ flagship Oxford Street store have been refused by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael Gove.

M&S was granted planning permission in 2021 to demolish the Art Deco building to replace it with a 10-storey block of offices and a public arcade. After much pressure from groups such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage to protect the site, a full public inquiry was ordered in June 2022, running for two weeks in October and November 2022.

On 20 July 2023, Secretary of State Michael Gove published his decision to refuse the demolition of the building – on the grounds of sustainability and heritage issues.

M&S CEO Stuart Machin took to Twitter to call the decision a “short-sighted act of self-sabotage.”


Sustainability and Heritage at Risk in M&S Oxford Street Plan


Michael Gove noted that the proposal “would overall fail to conserve the heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance”.

He also criticised the “substantial amount of carbon” that would go into the new construction which would directly affect the UK’s transition to a zero-carbon economy. It was also deemed that there had not been an “appropriately thorough exploration of alternatives to demolition”.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “This is a hugely important decision that rightly challenges the way we continually and needlessly knock down and rebuild important buildings across our towns and cities. Repurposing and converting buildings we cherish and saving thousands of tonnes of C02 in the process is a no brainer. This is a massive positive step and we salute the Secretary of State.”

Simon Sturgis, SAVE’s expert witness on embodied carbon at the inquiry & founder of carbon consultancy Targeting Zero, added:

“Congratulations to Michael Gove for a very important and influential decision. This shows that the government is serious about the climate crisis and understands that real change is needed if we are to achieve net zero by 2050. We must now progress with nationwide guidance on planning and building regulations (eg Part Z) to support this decision and deliver carbon reductions across the entire built environment industry.”

Picture: a photograph of Michael Gove. Image Credit: via an Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence:

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 21 July 2023


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