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Chelsea hope to resolve residents row over stadium redevelopment

Chelsea are seeking to overcome a significant obstacle in their bid to redevelop their Stamford Bridge home
Chelsea are seeking to overcome a significant obstacle in their bid to redevelop their Stamford Bridge home

Chelsea have asked for statutory powers to be employed to overcome an injunction which threatens to derail the £1billion redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.

Documents available ahead of Monday's meeting of the Hammersmith and Fulham Council cabinet outline the dispute.

Chelsea were granted planning permission last year to demolish the existing 41,000-seat stadium, replacing it with a 60,000-capacity arena on the same site in plans endorsed by the Mayor of London.

Chelsea have been reluctant to place a cost estimate on the project, but it could be £1bn, given the spends on similar-sized arenas in the capital and the complexity of the build.

However, the project is at risk unless the council, as requested by Chelsea - who have been owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich since 2003 - intervenes in a row with owners of a neighbouring property.

The Crosthwaites, the owners of the family home named in the documents, have taken out an injunction over a "right to light" which they say the new stadium would threaten - and Chelsea state the obstacle makes the project "undeliverable".

"There is a real risk that the development will never commence," a letter from Chelsea's lawyers to the council said.

The letter asked for the council to acquire an interest in land - owned by Network Rail and Transport for London - in order to engage section 203 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which would override the "right to light" principle.

The development will see £22m of community improvements, Hammersmith and Fulham council says, plus an increase in the local economy on matchdays due to additional spectators.

It is expected a decision will be announced on Monday evening - and the cabinet has been recommended to approve the move "due to considerable public benefits associated with the development".

Section 203 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 "is a legal provision that permits the carrying out of development notwithstanding that it would interfere with an easement, covenant, or other third party right," council documents state.

"The party with the benefit of such a right is no longer able to protect its right by injunction, and instead gains a right to statutory compensation," the document adds.

The Crosthwaite family, who live a football's kick away from the site, but over the railway line, argue in a legal letter that amendments to the design of the new stadium could be made without affecting their right to light.

"It is not the case that our clients' rights prevent the whole stadium being built," the letter states.

It adds there is a "disproportionate amount" of hospitality seating which takes up more space.

A separate letter from lawyers on behalf of Chelsea outlined their attempts to reach a settlement, including an unsuccessful mediation process.

It also suggested land near the property could be "compulsorily acquired" to overcome the issue. A compensation payment, based on compulsory purchase principles, could be due.

The lawyer letter also stated the club paid "a significant sum (around £50,000)" to allow the neighbours to take their own expert advice on the matter.

However, since launching High Court injunctive proceedings in May 2017, the owners "have stated repeatedly that they will not accept monetary compensation".

Press Association

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