Roman Abramovich’s plans for a new £1billion stadium for Chelsea could be derailed by the objections of just one family and their ‘right to light’.
In a David vs Goliath battle, the Crosthwaite family took out a High Court injunction back in May over fears the towering stands of Chelsea’s rebuilt 60,000-capacity home at Stamford Bridge will block out the sunlight from much of their property.
Chelsea have now called on the local council to intervene and try to sidestep the objection, with the possibility that compulsory purchase powers will be required to ensure Europe’s most expensive stadium goes ahead as planned.
Objections by a family living on Stamford Cottages over their ‘right to light’ could lead to Chelsea’s £1bn new stadium plan being derailed
The property is behind the East Stand at Stamford Bridge, across the railway line
Hammersmith and Fulham council will discuss next week whether to force through a compulsory purchase order on the Stamford Cottages property
Chelsea face a High Court injunction which threatens to stop their stadium redevelopment
The property in question is just over the railway line from Stamford Bridge, to the east
The Crosthwaite family – parents Lucinda and Nicolas, plus children Louis and Rose – have lived in Stamford Cottages, just a goal kick away from Stamford Bridge for 50 years.
Chelsea have already obtained planning permission and the green light from London mayor Sadiq Khan for their architecturally stunning new stadium, due to open in 2021.
The club have been agreeing deals with locals over their ‘right to light’ which, under English law, gives a landowner the right to receive sunlight through defined openings or gaps in buildings on his or her land.
But, according to the BBC, the offer of a six-figure compensation sum plus £50,000 of legal advice could not persuade the Crosthwaites to waive the ‘right to light’ in their three-bedroom home.
Chelsea hope to expand Stamford Bridge into a 60,000-seater stadium in time for 2024
A plan showing the area of Network Rail land within which air rights will be acquired (greyed area) and the area of CFC land within which air rights will be acquired (hatched area)
Chelsea’s billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich has played a big role in the plans
Though settlements have been reached with the rest of the homeowners on the street, where properties have recently been sold for £1.18m, the Crosthwaites are located the closest to the stadium site.
Rose Crosthwaite says that ‘sunlight and daylight will be seriously affected’ by the scale of the new stadium.
The family have said via their lawyers they are not opposed to the stadium’s redevelopment but have suggested planned hospitality areas be scaled back in order to make the East Stand closest to them smaller.
Their property sits in the neighbouring Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which they say is firmly opposed to the development, so Chelsea’s attempt to enlist the help of Hammersmith and Fulham council to sidestep their objections is not in the public interest and possibly illegal.
Images show what Chelsea’s redeveloped version of Stamford Bridge is set to look like
Chelsea have told the council they will be unable to start development work or secure financing while there remains a risk that the injunction proceedings could succeed.
Therefore the council plan to use their powers under planning law to buy the air rights over part of Stamford Bridge and the railway line which sits between the stadium and the affected homes.
They would then lease the land back to Chelsea and railway operators Network Rail, meaning the property owners would be entitled to compensation but would not be able to prevent the redevelopment.
A decision will be taken at a Hammersmith and Fulham council cabinet meeting on Monday.
Chelsea held a public consultation of 13,000 local residents and say the plans earned 97.5 per cent support. Other local residents have already been compensated over their ‘right to light’.
The reigning Premier League champions also claim the new stadium will greatly benefit the local community through educational programmes, improvement to infrastructure and an additional boost to business.