The Walkie-Talkie building will stand 525 feet tall and has been protested against by various groups
Development plans for an iconic London skyscraper – the Walkie-Talkie – may be stopped due to an issue with rights-of-light.
The issues may be overcome by the City of London’s planning powers. Under section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act
, developments that provide economic benefit to their surrounding area are protected.
The recent Heaney case was expected to set precedent in the rights-of-light area, but was settled out of court. After taking legal advice, developers Land Securities
agreed settlements with several neighbours that were likely to seek injunctions against the Walkie-Talkie. However, they ran into difficulties after it emerged that seven further property owners in the surrounding area were likely to raise injunctions to prevent the construction from going ahead.
Colette O’Shea, head of development for Land Securities’ London portfolio, said: “For the City of London to consider using its section 237 powers is an appropriate approach to support the continued growth of London.”
The building is due for completion in 2014, and developers are currently in talks with potential tenants who will need more than 100,000 square feet of office space by this time. While some preliminary deals have been signed, tenants must have certainty on a date when they can move into the building by September 2011 or they will be able to look elsewhere.
Shortly after the Heaney case was settled, a group of property developers met to discuss the implications of rights-of-light rulings and the outcome of the case on future developments. One expert advising the group said: “The Heaney case hasn’t changed the law, but it has changed perceptions in two ways. For developers, it looks likely the courts will exercise discretion against them concerning rights of light. For owners, it looks pretty easy to write a letter and get an injunction.”That’s why developers are taking another look at these big City schemes.”