Home Information Cases Mayor & Commonality & Citizens of London & Ors v Intercede 1765 Ltd & Ors (2005)

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Mayor & Commonality & Citizens of London & Ors v Intercede 1765 Ltd & Ors (2005)


Where, on a true interpretation of a deed imposing height restrictions on buildings, there was no uniform horizontal restriction, but an angled building line allowing increases in height according to the distance behind the facade, a developer was not in breach of the deed by making his new building higher.


The claimants (C) sought declarations, as trustees and proprietors of a Grade I listed building, that under a deed between themselves and the predecessors of the defendants (D) restricting the height of their respective buildings, D could not develop a Grade II* listed building to the height it had planned. Although negotiations with C on a price to modify the deed to allow a height increase had broken down, D went ahead with its construction, thereby committing itself, under the terms of the planning permission, to complete the new building in accordance with the plans. D submitted that on a true interpretation of the deed, the new building was not restricted in height as C claimed as it had to comply with all the information relating to height to be deduced from a contemporary architect's drawing annexed to the deed and not just with the height indicated by the vertical line shown. The drawings showed only the facades of the buildings with a vertical line to the top of the facade and an angle drawn from the outside edge of the pediment to the top of the facade as well as a building line which ran vertically from the base of the pediment and then at the specified angle to the top of the facade.


The development proposed by D was not in breach of any height restriction imposed. The deed and the drawing were clearly to be interpreted as a whole, giving appropriate weight to each part and not just to the vertical line. The drawing appeared to have been produced for the deed, and in that case it would not have included irrelevant details, nor omitted relevant ones. Accordingly the building line and the angle must have been intended to have some bearing on the problem at issue, and the omission of any indication of the extent of the sites was inconsistent with a uniform horizontal restriction on height. If the latter had been intended, there was no reason to use a drawing at all, as such could have been imposed in words. If a drawing had been chosen for that purpose, a horizontal line could have been drawn in. The towers on the earlier building exceeded the disputed height even though they were constructed at the time of the deed, and to conclude that they were inconsistent with it would be surprising.

Judgment for defendants.

Chancery Division
Sir Andrew Morritt VC
Judgment date
22 July 2005

​LTL 16/8/2005 : (2005) NPC 103 

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