The City of London Corporation has used s237 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ('s.237') in order to facilitate the redevelopment of 22 Bishopsgate, which will become London's tallest skyscraper once completed.
Building London's tallest skyscraper, practically rubbing shoulders with 20 Fenchurch Street and 30 St Mary Axe, inevitably meant having to deal with actions arising from the interference with the rights to light of neighbouring properties.
The developers had identified multiple possible injunctions and so the mechanism under s237, allowing local authorities to move parties with a viable injunction to a position where only compensation would be payable, was a pivotal issue.
Although the property was acquired by the City of London Corporation by agreement, in order to use the s237 mechanism, the local authority needed to show that the reasons for acquiring the property were in line with the reasons required for a compulsory purchase, i.e.:
- the authority think that the acquisition will facilitate the carrying out of development/redevelopment or improvement on or in relation to the land;
- the land is required for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of proper planning of an area in which the land is situated
and (in addition to one of a and b)
- that the development would contribute to or improve the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.
As there may be claims for compensation brought against City of London Corporation for extinguishing such rights, the developer is required to indemnify the Corporation against such claims.
This is a high-profile example of the use of the mechanism under s237, expediting a development that would otherwise be unviable due to the potential for multiple parties to obtain injunctions.