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City set to rescue WilkinsonEyre tower from right-to-light disputes

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The City of London is set to buy a stake in WilkinsonEyre’s Prussian Blue tower in central London to help the major development clear a number of right-to-light hurdles

The local authority will decide next week (30 October) whether to sanction its acquisition of an interest in the 51-storey office block on the corner of Bishopsgate and Leadenhall for developers Mitsubishi Estate London and Stanhope.

Construction on the £300 million tower – officially 6-8 Bishopsgate and 150 Leadenhall Street – is set to start next year but cannot go ahead unless 41 outstanding right-to-light disputes are resolved, according to documents filed with the council.

According to the papers, 19 of the outstanding interests are ‘particularly complex’ and ‘slow to resolve’ and there is also a restrictive covenant on part of the site which the scheme would breach.

‘The developer has come to the conclusion that the timely delivery of the development will only be possible with the City’s assistance in overcoming these potentially injunctable restrictive covenant and rights of light claims,’ the document reads.

Council papers recommending the acquisition state that local authorities can use powers under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 to help facilitate a development they believe will contribute to the ’‘promotion or improvement’ of the area. 

The City’s reasons for taking the decision include the addition of the new building in London’s Square Mile, provision of the public viewing gallery and the addition of ‘significant employment floorspace’ to meet anticipated demand. 

‘The development would make more efficient use of the redevelopment site as compared to the disjointed existing buildings,’ add the papers

In 2015 WilkinsonEyre won planning for a ‘stacked’ three-block scheme, featuring a 40-storey, 185m-tall centrepiece skyscraper, but the developer later lodged a reworked application which extended it by 10 storeys.

The new designs increased the building’s lettable office space from 41,806m² to 52,954m² but retained its ‘stepped form’.

The practice claimed the designs had evolved to echo the scale of three recently consented neighbouring skyscraper schemes: Eric Parry Architects’ 1 Undershaft; PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate; and Make’s 1 Leadenhall.

It is not the first time the City has intervened in this way. In 2016, it stepped in to help PLP Architecture’s 22 Bishopsgate development which was under ‘significant threat’ from right-to-light claims.

The AJ’s sister publication Construction News recently revealed that Lendlease had been awarded the contract to build the Prussian Blue tower.

WilkinsonEyre was approached for comment.

Collage prussian blue

Collage prussian blue

Original consented design 2015 (left); revised design 2017 (right)

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Phil Parker

    Absolute shambles and demonstrates that Planning in the City of London is in terminal disarray.

    This is a markedly mediocre building that crudely apes the Leadenhall Building and makes no contribution to the area.

    Senior planners at the CoL should be have lost control of the ship.

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