UK’s M&S wins judicial review of Marble Arch store plan

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government’s decision to block retailer Marks & Spencer from rebuilding its flagship store in Marble Arch in London can go to judicial review, the High Court ruled on Monday.

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, had in July refused planning permission for the scheme on heritage and environmental grounds, overturning approval from the local council.

Stuart Machin, the CEO of M&S, one of the best-known names in British business, called Gove’s decision “utterly pathetic” and in August the retailer launched a legal challenge.

“We are pleased that the court has recognised the merits of our legal challenge on every one of the six counts that we raised, and approved our case to proceed to the next stage,” Machin said in a statement.

“We have been clear from the very start that the refurbishment of the existing store was not possible, so this is only the first step in the lengthy process of overturning the government’s senseless decision.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities declined to comment.

Earlier this month, M&S beat first-half profit forecasts and said it expected full-year profit to rise by more than 30% as its latest turnaround effort gathered momentum. Its shares have doubled this year.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Barbara Lewis)