On Monday 28 November 2016 the City of London’s Planning and Transport Committee approved (19 votes in favour, 2 against) a resolution to grant permission for the development known as 1 Undershaft which at 73 storeys will be the tallest building in the City of London (that is 304.94m or a little over 1,000ft for the imperial brigade).

So is this the time for developers to think big and build big?

The proposed development is (self-evidently) a “tall building”. It will deliver a gross floor area of 154,100m2 (GEA), including 131,937m2 of office space and a 2,930m2 public viewing gallery on Levels 71 and 72.  The Undershaft scheme appears to have many similarities with another recently debated “tall building”, the Pinnacle.  Like the Pinnacle, if the benefits of a scheme and the delivery of objectives in line with planning policy guidelines can be demonstrated, planning permission is more likely to follow.  See our previous post on the Pinnacle.

The City of London commented that “the proposal accords to the development plan as a whole”. Further 1 Undershaft will deliver 7% of the additional office floor space sought in the London Local Plan, which aims to increase City employment by 35.6% by 2036, and is also in line with “strategic objective 1 in The City of London Local Plan 2015” which is “to maintain the City’s position as the world’s leading international financial and business centre”.  1 Undershaft may eventually house up to 10,000 workers.

This Decision could further be seen as a rubber stamping of the Government’s comments that “London is open for business”. Chris Hayward, the chairman of the City Planning Committee, said: “This development shows the high levels of investor confidence in London’s status as a global city following our decision to leave the European Union.”

We now expect a period of negotiation to begin between the landowner/developer and affected neighbouring land owners whose rights to light may be infringed by the development of 1 Undershaft. These discussions will be set against the new powers that can be used to extinguish neighbours’ rights to light under s203 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.  When the Pinnacle was in difficulties with rights to light the City used s237 Town & Country Planning Act powers to extinguish such rights.

We therefore wait to see how this matter unfolds and whether this may be a “test case” for the new legislation.

Remember, developers, if you can think big and justify that the benefits of the scheme outweigh the burdens and rights deprived, the sky might just be the limit…