What’s going on with Oxford Street’s iconic M&S store?

Will they or won’t they? It’s a tale as old as time and the backbone of any decent romcom. Except we’re not talking about movies right now, we’re talking about the demolition of the M&S flagship store on Oxford Street. That’s right, there’s been a new development in the ongoing saga that is the bulldozing and rebuilding of the 1929 Marks & Spencer store near Marble Arch. 

In 2022 it was announced that Orchard House, the Art Deco M&S store at 458 Oxford Street, was going to be knocked down and replaced with a swanky modern store. People were not happy. Following public outrage and a Crowdfunder backed by a number of celebs, Secretary of State Michael Gove blocked the plans to build a new ten-storey retail space in its place in July 2023. 

We thought it was curtains for the demolition of the old Orchard House building, but now that might not be the case. The High Court has now said that Gove’s blocking of the store’s redevelopment was wrong and the government ‘misapplied’ rules to stop the renovation. 

M&S then decided to pursue legal action against the government, Westminster City Council and Save Britain’s Heritage over the decision to refuse its planning permission.

In a hearing that took place this week, M&S said the redevelopment of the store is ‘of fundamental importance’ to the future of Oxford Street. While Gove suggested the 1929 store be renovated instead of bulldozed, a property inspector David Nicholson said being able to carry out ‘meaningful refurbishment’ was ‘unlikely’, meaning demolition was the only option.

Nicholson added that stopping the development would likely lead to M&S at Orchard House closing, causing ‘terminal’ harm to the ‘vitality and viability of the area’. 

So, the future of the M&S flagship is once again up in the air. The hearing is due to conclude later today (February 14), when hopefully a decision will be made. 

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