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Council to rescue Herzog & de Meuron’s Chelsea stadium from residents’ injunction

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The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is set to step in to prevent Herzog & de Meuron’s new stadium for Chelsea FC being scuppered by rights of light objections

The council is looking to use its compulsory purchase powers after the owners of two neighbouring properties launched a High Court injunction to stop the development.

The owners say the planned £600 million stadium scheme, which was waved through by London mayor Sadiq Khan last March, should be altered to prevent it from blocking their light. But the local authority has said that is not a realistic option.

A report set to go to the council’s cabinet next week says: ‘The club has been in discussions with the owners of 1-2 Stamford Cottages for some time to acquire their rights to light by agreement, but they have confirmed that it is highly unlikely that a private agreement will be reached.

‘Given the significant level of investment necessary, the club state that they will not be able to implement the development or secure any necessary development financing whilst there remains a risk that the existing injunctive proceedings might succeed.’

In order to allow the development to proceed, the council is set to use powers under planning law which would see them buy air rights over part of the stadium and the railway line that separates the stadium from the homes.

It would then lease the land back to the current owners: the football club and Network Rail.

The move would mean that the homeowners were entitled to compensation for the loss of light, rather than being able to stop the development completely.

Chelsea has agreed preliminary deals with around 60 per cent of 50 properties it has identified as being affected by rights of light issue. It says it expects to agree terms with all but the two properties involved in the injunction.

According to council documents, the club says that in June 2017 it offered more than the market rate for the release of their rights, but this was refused.

A letter to the council from solicitors acting on behalf of the owners of the two properties said they would ‘take all legal action available to them’ if the council proceeded with acquiring an interest in the land.

Herzog & de Meuron’s design was unanimously approved by Hammersmith & Fulham Council in January 2017.

The proposed stadium – a three-tier, four-stand bowl – will increase capacity at the club’s Stamford Bridge home from 41,837 to 60,000.

The ground will be enclosed by 264 brick piers, rising up and over spectators to support a circular steel ring connected to radial steel roof trusses 50m above the bowl.

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