In September 2015, the firm acted for a purchaser in relation to the acquisition of a commercial property with the benefit of a lease granted to a leading supermarket.

Following the acquisition, the supermarket tenant approached our client for consent to grant a sub-lease for 99 years to a power distributor for the erection and operation of an electricity sub-station, as the supermarket store required additional power.

The substation was proposed to be located in the centre of the site let to the supermarket. 

When further and detailed information was pressed for, it emerged that the substation intended to provide power to the supermarket as well as other properties. This would not only potentially grant third parties rights over the client’s land, but also adversely affect our client’s potential development opportunities in the future, after the supermarket tenant vacated the site. On behalf of our landlord client, we therefore withheld the consent sought.

The matter was not pursued by the supermarket tenant, so preserving our client’s ability to develop its land in such form as it saw fit.

The case was important because a significant plot of land could have lost vast value if the sub-station consent had been granted without enquiry, a common enough occurrence. Careful scrutiny unearthed the danger which lay ahead.