Rights to Light

If you are building an extension to your house, or a loft conversion, it may affect your neighbour’s light. Rights to light can be a significant cause of disputes and should always be considered when planning a building.

What Is A Right To Light?

right to light is a law that grants the long-standing owner of a building with windows the right to maintain the level of illumination. The right to light originates in common law, but was codified in statutory law in the Prescription Act of 1832.

In terms of rights to light, long-standing usually means twenty years, but has in the past been amended to mean twenty-seven years in the exceptional circumstances following World War II.

architect at building site

Illumination is more complicated to define. A method exists to determine illumination levels, but it is controversial and many sensible amendments have been proposed in recent years. Illumination is currently assessed by an expert, according to standards originally laid out by Percy Waldram in the 1920s.

A right to light may also be registered or granted by deed.

How Might A Neighbour's Right To Light Affect Me?

A neighbour's right to light calling your development into question has always been a significant concern, but with the recent decision of HKRUK II (CHC) Ltd v Marcus Alexander Heaney in 2010 the issue has become extremely urgent.

In this case, a developer received a surprise injunction that represented a dramatic shift in how potential right to light infringements have to be treated by developers and insurers, with cutback costs of £2.5 million (compared to an estimated value of the loss of light in the region of £80,000).

Although it related to commercial premises, it highlighted the importance of right to light considerations in modern development and planning.

Can We Help You?

Taking early legal advice could save a lot of time and expense if your neighbour subsequently claims that you have blocked their right to light. Read more about loss of light planning objections.

We can advise you on subjects such as which parties you need to negotiate with, whether it will be possible for the local planning authority to acquire an interest in the property under section 237 of the Town And Country Planning Act, and many more important processes that may be able to help your development.

Please call Kingsley Smith Planning Law Solicitors on 01634 811 118, complete our online enquiry form, or email our planning law expert Nicholas Kingsley-Smith.

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