Rights to Light and Daylight & Sunlight Amenity are two separate neighbourly matters which require consideration during the course of a development. Ignore them and they can have serious implications on a scheme. Embrace them and there is scope for maximising the development potential on your site.

Rights to Light and Daylight & Sunlight Amenity are two separate neighbourly matters which require consideration during the course of a development. Ignore them and they can have serious implications on a scheme. Embrace them and there is scope for maximising the development potential on your site.

A Right to Light is an easement, similar to a Right of Way, where apertures such as windows, doors, even rooflights, can acquire or be granted rights that are protected by law.

The easiest way of considering the light which can be protected is thinking about the amount of ‘blue sky’ which can be seen at the working plane (roughly desk or kitchen work surface height) within a room.

If ‘interference’ in the level of ‘blue sky’ is caused by the construction of a new building or structure and this is deemed to be to an unreasonable degree, then there may be grounds for the neighbour to take action. An objection could then be raised through the courts that could lead to either damages in the form of compensation being paid or even worse, an injunction being granted to cease construction and / or remove the offending part of the development causing the injury.

By contrast, Daylight & Sunlight Amenity is purely a Planning matter with the final decision as to what is considered acceptable belonging to Local Authorities. This subject reviews the orientation of buildings, room uses and the effects on external amenity space in terms of shadowing. It also considers the light within a development itself; not just the surrounding properties.

This should be a reminder to all developers, large or small, not to confuse these two subjects; just because a scheme may have been granted planning permission, this does not necessarily mean it can be constructed without further action. If a Rights to Light risk management strategy has not been fully developed or if the disclosure of sensitive information is prohibited by an insurer, tabling the wrong report could be significantly detrimental to a development proceeding.

It is therefore crucial that consideration of these subject areas is given as early as possible, designing out risks or managing them accordingly.

For further advice on the above or any other Neighbourly Matters such as Party Wall or Access Arrangements for crane oversail, scaffolding or hoarding licences, Rapleys Neighbourly Matters team operating throughout the UK will be well placed to assist.

 

contact: