Sovmots Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment; Brompton Securities Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtHouse of Lords
JudgeLord Wilberforce,Lord Edmund-Davies,Lord Fraser of Tullybelton,Lord Russell of Killowen,Lord Keith of Kinkel
Judgment Date28 Apr 1977
Judgment citation (vLex)[1977] UKHL J0428-2

[1977] UKHL J0428-2

House of Lords

Lord Wilberforce

Lord Edmund-Davies

Lord Fraser of Tullybelton

Lord Russell of Killowen

Lord Keith of Kinkel

Sovmots Investments Limited
(Appellants)
and
Secretary of State for the Environment and Others
(Respondents)
Brompton Securities Limited
(Appellants)
and
Secretary of State for the Environment and Others
(Respondents)
[Conjoined Appeals]

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause Sovmots Investments Limited against Secretary of State for the Environment and others. That the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Monday the 28th day of February last, as on Tuesday the 1st, Wednesday the 2d, Thursday the 3d, Monday the 7th, Tuesday the 8th, Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the 10th, days of March last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Sovmots Investments Limited of 7 Cleveland Row, St. James's, London SW1A 1DB, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 9th of July 1976, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, and that the Petitioners might have the relief prayed for in the Appeal or such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the Case of the Secretary of State for the Environment; and also upon the Case of the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the London Borough of Camden, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 9th day of July 1976, complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby, Reversed, and that the Order of the Honourable Mr. Justice Forbes of the 1st day of August 1975 whereby it was ordered that the London Borough of Camden (Centre Point Residential Accommodation) Compulsory Purchase Order 1972 be quashed with costs be, and the same is hereby. Restored: And it is further Ordered, That the Respondents do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Appellants the Costs incurred by them in the Court of Appeal, and also the Costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal to this House, the amount of such last-mentioned Costs to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause Brompton Securities Limited against Secretary of State for the Environment and others, That the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Monday the 28th day of February last, as on Tuesday the 1st, Wednesday the 2d, Thursday the 3d, Monday the 7th, Tuesday the 8th, Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the 10th, days of March last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Brompton Securities Limited formerly of 74 New Cavendish Street, London W.l, now of York House, Stadium Way, Wembley, Middlesex, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 9th of July 1976, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, and that the Petitioners might have the relief prayed for in the Appeal or such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the Case of the Secretary of State for the Environment; and also upon the Case of the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the London Borough of Camden, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 9th day of July 1976, complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby, Reversed, and that the Order of the Honourable Mr. Justice Forbes of the 1st day of August 1975 whereby it was ordered that the London Borough of Camden (Centre Point Residential Accommodation) Compulsory Purchase Order 1972 be quashed with costs be, and the same is hereby, Restored: And it is further Ordered, That the Respondents do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Appellants the Costs incurred by them in the Court of Appeal, and also the Costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal to this House, the amount of such last-mentioned Costs to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Queen's Bench Divison of the High Court of Justice, to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.

Lord Wilberforce

My Lords,

1

In these conjoined appeals, the appellants (1) Sovmots Investments Ltd. ("Sovmots") and (2) Brompton Securities Ltd. ("Brompton") are seeking to have quashed a compulsory purchase order made by the London Borough of Camden ("Camden") and confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Environment. At first instance, Forbes J., on 1st August 1975, quashed the order, but his decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal on 21st July 1976.

2

The full title of the order is the London Borough of Camden (Centre Point Residential Accommodation) Compulsory Purchase Order 1972. It was made on 12th September 1972, under Part V of the Housing Act 1957, in particular under sections 96 and 97.

3

Centre Point is a remarkable, elaborate and expensive complex of buildings at St. Giles Circus, London, W.C. The site freeholders are the Greater London Council, and Sovmots are lessees for 150 years from 29th September 1960. The present litigation, and the difficulties in its resolution, arise directly out of the unique character of this development.

4

Centre Point was completed in the winter of 1966/7, but with minor exceptions, which at the date of the order did not include the residential section, has never been occupied. There is a considerable housing shortage in Camden, so it is not surprising that in 1972 the Council decided compulsorily to acquire the residential section in order to provide housing accommodation for people on its housing list.

5

Centre Point consist of three main parts. First, on the west side, there is a very high tower block meant for office use. Second, there is a low Bridge Block running west to east, joining the other two parts: this is intended for shops and showrooms. Third, on the east side, running from north to south, there is the Earnshaw Wing. This is of unusual construction. The lower part consists of a basement car park and four floors intended for shops, showrooms and offices. This part has a flat roof, called a "podium". From the podium there rise columns, or stilts, architecturally keyed in with the lower part, which support a massive block of distinct architectural design containing 36 two-storey maisonettes in six floors. Each maisonette is reached from a corridor running from south to north through the middle of the block on alternate floors. Access to the upper floor of each maisonette is by an internal staircase. It is these maisonettes which are the subject of the compulsory purchase order.

6

The structure of the Earnshaw Wing and of the maisonette block is elaborate and can only be adequately described with the help of plans and photographs. These were available to your Lordships. Your Lordships found it useful to visit the site and inspect it in some detail. The following features are particularly relevant for the purposes of these appeals. Access to the maisonette block is provided by lifts and staircases. There are two passenger lifts at the south end from an entrance hall on the ground floor of the Earnshaw Wing: these serve only the maisonettes via the corridors. There is also a goods lift from the ground floor to the podium which also serves the shops. There is a staircase alongside the passenger lifts: this also provides access for showroom and office floors in the lower part. There is another staircase at the north end of the Earnshaw Wing: this is in two parts. The upper part provides exits, really for emergency use, at alternate floor levels from the masonettes' corridors. At the other (alternate) levels it is possible to escape from the maisonettes on to the staircase through hatches. Below podium level, this staircase provides access to the floors from mezzanine level downwards and emerges on to the street. There is a connection between the two parts of this staircase by a one-way door which allows access from the maisonettes, but is supposed to deny access to them. Also at the north end of the maisonettes there is a small rubbish chute to which the maisonettes have access: this terminates in a receptacle in an enclosed chamber on the podium. This receptacle is said to be capable of being wheeled across the podium to the goods lift at the south end.

7

There are common services available for the Earnshaw block which are to a great extent combined and not capable of separation as between the upper and lower part. Electricity is controlled from an intake room in the basement where there are five switch-geared supplies, four for the maisonettes, the fifth for the general services provided in the wing, viz., lifts, ventilation, lighting and power to stairs, corridors, car parks and showroom and shops areas. Water is supplied to the maisonettes by extensions of the mains supplying the lower part of the building. Soil and...

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