Lipton Rogers, the developer behind PLP’s huge 22 Bishopsgate tower, has asked the City of London to step in over rights-of-light claims which could threaten the scheme
The City’s planning and transportation committee is to decide later today whether to use emergency powers to acquire part of the 278m-tall development, effectively overriding the rights of neighbouring property owners to block the project in the courts.
Those with rights of light that were infringed would still be entitled to compensation.
The 62-storey skyscraper, a replacement for the mothballed Helter Skelter, was approved by the City of London last November and the tower had been scheduled to complete in early 2019.
But Lipton Rogers, working with partner Axa Real Estate, has warned it has yet to settle right-of-light claims with numerous freeholders around the plot. This lack of certainty, it claimed, posed ‘a significant threat to progressing the scheme’ given that it needed to place ‘substantial pre-construction orders for materials, and procure the main build contract’.
The report to the City’s planning committee reads: ’There are large number of affected owners who have rights-of-light interests and may wish to maintain actionable claims.
‘There is therefore concern that the development programme is at risk due to the inability to settle remaining rights-of-light claims ,with the prospect that those with relevant interests may be able to pursue injunctive relief.’
The authority’s officers are recommending approval for the move, which would see it engage the provisions of section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act.
The new 62-storey building will provide 185,000m2 of office space for about 12,000 people in 100 companies. The high-rise office tower will also feature a restaurant and bar, retail space and a public viewing gallery.
The design of 22 Bishopsgate is being led by Karen Cook, who co-founded PLP following her exit from KPF in the summer of 2009.
A spokesman for Lipton Rogers told the AJ: ’We are committed to developing the scheme, and we are working with all our neighbours in an open fashion, as well as with the City to bring forward the development within the intended timetable.’
Extract from planning report:
’….Despite their efforts the surveyors report that 19 per cent [i.e. only 11 out of 48 freehold interests and 6 out of 42 leasehold interests] have entered into deeds of release of their right of light. In a number of cases only extremely limited and/or very slow progress has been made. The owners have indicated that they will continue to negotiate, but that the ability to enforce interference with rights to light by injunction poses a significant threat to the ability to progress the scheme.
’The owners identify three main reasons why the threat of injunctive relief threatens their ability to proceed with the scheme. (a) the need to place substantial pre-construction orders for materials; (b) the very large numbers of parties who may wish to bring claims yet display no serious intention to negotiate deeds of release; and (c) the risk that there may be unknown dominant owners who could seek an injunction at some later date.
‘The owners consider that there is considerable uncertainty as to whether they would be able to conclude negotiations and enter binding deeds of release with all affected owners in time to enable the works programme to commence on 4 April 2016 that would facilitate completion of the development by January 2019.’
PLP’s designs for 22 Bishopsgate
Source: Riverfilm Martin Richardson