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29th April 2016

London's Skyline

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119 high-rise buildings are in the planning process which will have a dramatic impact on London’s Skyline.

It has been reported that the nations capital has 436 buildings over 20 storeys in the pipeline. A total of 119 new buildings with at least 20 storeys have entered the planning process over the last 12 months which will have a dramatic impact on London’s Skyline.

The largest of these will be 22 Bishopsgate (which replaces the project known as the Pinnacle or Helter Skelter) Standing at 278 meters (912 ft in old money) this will eclipse the nearby Heron Tower standing at 231 meters. The Shard across the river will remain Europe’s tallest building at 309 metres.

Planning permission for this development was obtained back in November 2015. It is intended the 62 storey tower will provide office space for more than 12000 people with shops and other services to include bars and restaurants. It is hoped the project will be completed in early 2019.

Before the project could commence there were some complex rights of light issues to be settled with the adjoining owners which threatened to significantly delay progress. The impact of such a tall building on light passing to the windows of surrounding properties meant that such negotiations could potentially take years to resolve. The developers succeeded in securing the support of the Planning and Transportation Committee of the City Corporation sooner than expected. They asked the City corporation to step in and use their powers within the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 to effectively override the private rights on the basis it was in the public interest to do so.

The developer’s submission to the Committee showed evidence of them attempting to reach agreement with over 100 different interests citing the obvious difficulty in negotiating with such a wide range of parties. The City Corporation decided that in this case they were justified in using their powers in order to enable the development to go ahead.

The City Corporations decision in this particular case provides some much needed encouragement for developers. They cited the Citys need for high quality office space in the city as an important factor as well as the need to regenerate a prime Square Mile site. The Committee wanted to send out a positive message that they were prepared to use their powers in appropriate cases. The hope being that this would encourage adjoining owners to engage constructively with developers in rights to light negotiations and that even the mere threat of the use of these powers would encourage more agreements.

Despite this decision there is still a great amount of uncertainty in this area of law for developers which no doubt will continue until there is some form of statutory intervention.

For further information please contact Stuart Simões on 020 7400 6574 or click here to email Stuart.