In a rare decision, the City of London has resolved to use its powers under s237 of the Town and Country Planning Act to allow the development of 22 Bishopsgate.
Development on the site has been non-existent ever since the Pinnacle scheme was abandoned in 2012. Planning permission for a new 62 story tower was granted in November 2015. However, the tower’s future was in doubt due to the number of rights to light claims from adjoining owners. The planning committee’s report suggests that there were 61 outstanding rights of light claims from adjoining property owner to be settled and that only 19% of those had reached agreed heads of terms.
On 5 April, to secure the future of 22 Bishopsgate, the City of London resolved to use its powers under s.237 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Very simply, this means that in exercising its powers, the City of London will acquire the land for planning purposes. In doing so it removes the risk of an injunction by any adjoining owners whose rights of light are affected. Instead anyone whose rights of light are infringed will be entitled to compensation. The developer will need to provide the City with adequate indemnities in respect of such claims.
This decision gives the developer and its funders the security that there will not be any delays in its build programme due to injunctions. The final decision has been delegated to the Town Clerk. It remains to be seen whether this decision will be challenged by the affected adjoining owners.
The use of s237 is often talked about and threatened in development projects in London. However, it is very rare for a decision to be made to exercise the powers. The last time the City actually did was in relation to the Walkie Talkie building.