Last May, Chelsea FC’s redevelopment plans faced a significant setback. The Crosswaites, a family of four, obtained an injunction, arguing that the new 60,000-seater stadium would cast a permanent shadow over their family home of over 50 years – and infringe their right to light.
Chelsea FC’s owner, Roman Abramovich, isn’t one to back down easily (he won the biggest private court case in British legal history). And, in a strategy to thwart the Crosswaites’ legal challenge, his club reached an agreement with Hammersmith & Fulham City Council last Monday.
The Council agreed to use a legal loophole – under s.203 of the House & Planning Act 2016 – to compulsorily purchase the land between the Crosswaites’ home and the stadium, and then lease it back to the club for it to use for the redevelopment. By doing so, it wouldn’t be subject to the family’s High Court proceedings and, instead, the Crosswaites would be entitled to statutory compensation for the loss in value of their home caused by the interference.
For now, Chelsea are continuing to negotiate with the Crosswaites – reportedly offering them a six-figure sum, above the property's market value in compensation – and will only implement this strategy if they can’t reach an agreement.
The Crossewaites, though, could have an ace up their sleeve – by seeking a judicial review. And, given their resilience up until now, it’d be surprising if they don’t.
The Council’s Head of Planning, John Finlayson, said that there was a ‘compelling case in the public interest’ for the Council to go ahead and purchase the land, so that the ‘public benefits’ of the development could be ‘realised’.
If their strategy doesn’t face any legal challenges, Chelsea will need about four years to demolish – and complete – the new stadium. It’ll likely be ready for the 2024/25 season – by which stage the Crosswaites may have moved to a sunnier suburb of London.
As a Russian oligarch worth an estimated $9.1 billion, Roman Abramovich will have no doubt become accustomed to getting his own way. However, his ambitious plans to build a £1 billion new stadium for his Chelsea Football Club are being thwarted by an unlikely adversary - a family of four who fear a “loss of light” in their London cottage that overlooks the Stamford Bridge stadium where the redevelopment is to take place. For more than 20 years, Nicolas, 69, and Lucinda Crosthwaite, 58, have lived, along with their children Louis, 23, and Rose, 25, in a Fulham house next to the Premier League team’s ground. In 2014, the club began developing plans to create Europe’s most expensive and lavish stadium there.