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James Souter discusses M&S's successful legal challenge against the UK government with various national, broadcast, international and trade outlets

Retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) has won a legal challenge in the High Court against Michael Gove’s decision to stop the retailer from knocking down its Art Deco flagship store on London’s Oxford Street. In a ruling on Friday, the court said the decision by the UK secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities was unlawful.

Mrs Justice Lieven said in her ruling: "In my view, it is plain that the SoS misinterpreted the NPPF [the National Planning Policy Framework], and therefore erred in law [...] The SoS has not applied the policy, he has rewritten it.”

Gove intervened and rejected M&S’s plans to rebuild the store in central London in July, two years after planning was approved by Westminster City Council. The government must now revisit its decision before it determines whether the retailer can redevelop the site.

On the back of the judgment, James Souter, Partner in our real estate disputes team, appears on Sky News (Ian King Live), and comments in a range of media publications, including but not limited to the Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian, Property Week and Building.

James comments:

This case goes to the heart of an uneasy tension between the protection of heritage assets, environmental concerns and developmental potential. 

"Today’s decision will be embarrassing for the Government, not least because of the public perception on the costs incurred. It could also give developers greater confidence in bringing forwards contemporary new-build schemes, even where the possibility of retrofitting existing structures is theoretically possible. 

"However, this does not automatically mean that planning permission will be granted – Gove will have to redetermine the appeal and could in theory still refuse planning permission.

Related coverage:

Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail, iNews, The Grocer, Building Magazine, Building Design, Property Week (1, 2), Construction News, Planning (1, 2), Retail Times, BE News, PBC Today, 365 Retail


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