221: What is a fixture? A boathouse in Hyde Park next to the Serpentine
In The Royal Parks Limited and another v Bluebird Boats Limited, the High Court held that a boathouse constructed by the operator of a boating concession formed part of land beside the Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park. Bluebird Boats had no right to remove it when its concession contract expired as the boathouse was annexed to the land.
The Royal Parks Limited granted Bluebird Boats a contract to operate a boating facility on the Serpentine Lake back in 1998. After a re-tendering process, Bluebird replaced the existing boathouse and jetties in 2004 with new ones, together with receiving a new concession contract.
When the contract expired in 2019, Bluebird believed it was entitled to remove the boathouse that it had constructed. This was disputed by the Royal Parks who argued that due to the annexation to the land, the boathouse had become part of the land itself.
Generally, a fixture is something that cannot be removed from land at the end of a lease or contract as it is affixed to the property. Whereas, a chattel is generally something that is removeable by a tenant or occupier and is not classed as a fixture.
The High Court agreed with the Royal Parks that the boathouse was now part of the Crown’s land at Hyde Park. It held that the degree of annexation was such that the boathouse had become permanently affixed to the land, and could only be removed by demolition.
In this case, the purpose of the design and construction of the boathouse as a permanent enhancement to Hyde Park meant it had become a part of the land itself.
This case re-affirms the existing law of fixtures and is great example of how the law is applied in a practical sense.