The Cabinet at Hammersmith & Fulham Council has approved the acquisition of an interest in land as part of the redevelopment of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground.
Planning permission has already been granted for the development, which would see the construction of a 60,000 capacity all-seater football stadium.
However, the scheme is the subject of rights to light injunctive proceedings in the High Court brought by a family, the Crosthwaites, who live in a house near the stadium.
Chelsea and the Crosthwaites have been in discussions for some time to acquire the rights to light by agreement, a report prepared for the Cabinet meeting said, but it was “highly unlikely” that a private agreement would be reached.
The football club wrote to Hammersmith & Fulham to request it to exercise its statutory powers to acquire a necessary leasehold interest in the relevant land for planning purposes under section 227 of the of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, in order to engage section 203 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, to facilitate the delivery of the approved development and the realisation of the associated public benefits.
The Cabinet report explained that section 203 of the 2016 Act is a legal provision that permits the carrying out of development notwithstanding that it would interfere with an easement, covenant, or other third party right. “The party with the benefit of such a right is no longer able to protect its right by injunction, and instead gains a right to statutory compensation. The protection provided by section 203 will apply both to the Council and to any party deriving title to the land from the Council – In this case it is proposed that the relevant Land be leased back and the leases held by the Club, who will carry out the Development.”
The report argued that there was “a compelling case in the public interest for the council to acquire the Land for planning purposes under section 227 of the 1990 Act, to engage section 203 of the 2016 Act and enable the development to proceed and the public benefits to be realised.
“The engagement of these powers is considered to be proportionate and justified, notwithstanding the interference with the private rights of the landowners affected by overriding the third-party rights to light over the land.”
The Crosthwaites’ lawyers are understood to have previously written to Hammersmith & Fulham warning that the acquisition would be unlawful.