City of London poised to step in over 22 Bishopsgate skyscraper "rights to light" battle

Kasmira Jefford
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Axa and Lipton Rogers bought the 22 Bishopsgate last year after years standing half-built (Source: Axa IM and Lipton Rogers)

The developers behind City skyscraper 22 Bishopsgate have called on the City of London for help fighting a fierce "rights to light" battle with neighbouring landlords that threatens to derail the scheme.

AXA Investment Managers - Real Assets and Lipton Rogers have been locked in a row with its neighbours and campaign groups, who argue that the 62-storey tower overshadows their buildings and encroaches on their so-called rights to light.

They now face the threat of an injunction and have asked planners at the City of London to invoke rarely-used powers that would effectively see the council temporarily acquire the site under a Section 237 agreement and therefore override any legal action.

The Planning and Transportation Committee will meet tomorrow afternoon to vote whether to approve this course of action, which has already been recommended by the City's planning officer Annie Hampson.

In a note ahead of the meeting, Hampson told committee members: “The owners have advised that there is a significant threat to progressing the scheme. There is an early need to place substantial pre-construction orders for materials and procure the main build contract in order to complete by March 2019".

Land Securities is also requesting that the City uses the Section 237 after facing similar opposition over its vast 510,000 sq ft mixed-used scheme 21 Moorfields.

A spokesperson said: “The City of London Corporation has used section 237 sparingly to acquire land in order to enable important major developments which will result in significant improvements to the locality, increased floor space and employment generation. Each case is considered on its merits."

Twenty-two Bishopsgate – the building formerly known as the Pinnacle – has stood half-built since 2008, after the sheer cost of the project brought it to a standstill during the financial crisis.

Read More: From The Pinnacle to 22 Bishopsgate: A short history of the City's next skyscraper

It was acquired in February last year for £220m by Axa IM and Lipton Rogers, who lost no time filing their planning application, which was approved in November.

Once complete, the so-called vertical city will have space for more than 12,000 people, with 1.3m sq ft of office space, restaurants, a viewing gallery and parking space for 1,500 bikes as well as 100 showers.

Axa IM and Lipton Rogers said: “We are committed to developing the scheme and we are working with all our neighbours in an open fashion, as well as the City to bring forward the development within the intended timetable.”

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