The dispute between Chelsea FC and the Crosthwaites family highlights the risk of a developer assuming it can acquire a neighbour’s right to light by offering the neighbours suitable compensation.
A developer must always remember that the primary remedy for infringement of a property right, including a right to light is, an injunction.
Chelsea FC successfully secured planning permission for a significant GBP 1 billion redevelopment of their Stamford Bridge stadium. However, the scale of the redevelopment threw up a number of right to light claims from neighbouring residents occupying properties around the stadium. Most residents agreed compensation payments, but the Crosthwaites successfully obtained an injunction in May 2017, stopping Chelsea FC’s redevelopment plans. The injunction prevented development, and even the demolition of the existing stadium, until an intervention by the local authority helped to resolve the dispute.
To ensure that a proposed development is not substantially cut back or stopped altogether, developers should be aware at an early stage of any right to light issues that may arise in relation to their proposed development. Where it is not possible to avoid infringing other’s rights to light, developers should seek to negotiate compensation with the neighbouring owners and insurance can help protect against some financial risk. However, because of the potential of an injunction causing potentially disastrous financial consequences and lengthy delays, developers should consider commissioning a right to light report from an experienced specialist surveyor. Such a report produces calculations revealing the extent of any potential infringement upon an occupier’s right to light and lawyers can assist in identifying the affected occupiers.
In such a situation, the developer may wish to negotiate a financial settlement with those affected prior to committing to the development. The compensation agreement would normally be formally recorded in a deed of release and often many other neighbourly matters like noise and other disturbance would also be dealt with. Whilst this can involve some costs, it avoids any uncertainty and the potential for litigation further down the line. However, as illustrated with Chelsea FC, compensation will not always be agreed. Whilst insurance may be available to cover potential compensation claims or the legal costs associated with an injunction, this is often a second best option.
– Justin Sadler, June 2018
We offer a fixed-fee one hour initial consultation for just £95 including VAT where you can discuss your dispute and receive valuable advice about your options. If you have a dispute and would like to know your position please use the form on this website to arrange a meeting at our offices in Queens Road, Reading. Alternatively, you can contact Justin Sadler, our Litigation Partner in Reading. Justin can be contacted on 0118 958 9711 or [email protected]