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

It looks like it’s going to be demolished after all

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence
Contributing writer
Marks and Spencers, Oxford Street, London, UK
Photograph: Constantin Iosif /

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 two-storey retail space plus offices in its place in July 2023. 

We thought it was curtains for the demolition of the old Orchard House building, but now Michael Gove's decision has been overturned. In a court case that concluded earlier this week, the government’s decision to block the redevelopment of the Art Deco store was ruled as unlawful. 

In the hearing, 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’. 

M&S chief executive Stuart Machin called Gove’s decision ‘utterly pathetic’.

Judge Nathalie Lieven ruled that Gove misapplied Britain’s planning policy and overturned his decision. She said Gove had also failed to give adequate reasons for why refusing permission would not cause wider harm to London’s West End, despite M&S saying it would have to close the store if it wasn’t allowed to build a new site.

M&S operations director Sacha Berendji said in a statement the retailer’s planned redevelopment ‘would deliver one of London’s greenest buildings, create thousands of new jobs and rejuvenate the capital’s premier shopping district’.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: ‘We acknowledge the judgment and are considering our next steps.’

So looks like it’s farewell to the OG Oxford Street M&S. We’ll keep you updated when we know more about the demolition. 

Did you see that legendary London club The Cause is opening a pub in Peckham?

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