What is meant by a 'right to light' ?
The development of already crowded urban areas and extensions to existing homes on the increase means that natural light can no longer be regarded as on infinite resource. The natural light available needs to be fairly distributed.
As a property owner you can acquire a legal right to a certain amount of natural light. In your home just over half of each room should be lit by natural light, slightly less for a commercial building.
What can go wrong?
A new building or extension to a neighbouring property can limit the amount of light coming in through a window. If the level of light inside a room falls below the accepted level, this constitutes an obstruction. You may decide to waive your rights, but if you do not, you are entitled to take legal action. This route can be expensive and may not be how you would wish to solve the problem. Seeking advice from a professional at an early stage could avoid the need to involve lawyers.
An extension to an existing property is a common cause of right to light problems. A homeowner may extend their property without realising the development may affect adjacent properties. When a simple small extension is planned, a chartered surveyor or a right to light specialist would rarely be consulted and the first the developer knows of a problem is when they receive a solicitor's letter from one of their neighbours!
What can be done about it?
You have the right to oppose a planned development, even after planning permission has been granted. Depending on the seriousness of the problem and assuming the development goes ahead, the courts are able to award compensation, reduce the part of the development that is causing the problem or a combination of both. In extreme cases the court may issue an injunction to prevent the development altogether.
A specialist right to light surveyor can explain your rights and help you resolve the problem, possibly without the need for legal action. If a proposed development is still at the planning stage, the surveyor will be able to estimate the amount of light that is likely to be lost as a result of the new structure. Their report will allow you judge whether or not you have a strong enough case to fight.
What if it's your development?
A specialist surveyor will assist you at the design stage by assessing design options. They will be able to recommend solutions that will have the least impact on the light to neighbouring properties. If you are planning a major development this would be a cost effective option. It will prevent the likelihood of expensive design changes or planning delays at a later date due to impacts from daylight, sunlight and overshadowing issues.
Specialist surveyors can also carry out assessments of lighting which are needed under the Code for Sustainable Homes.
Filling in the form above will give you a list of names and contact details of surveyors who specialise in Daylight Reports. You can then make direct contact and discuss your requirements in details.
Do you carry out Daylight and Sunlight or Rights of Light Survey work?
If you are a surveyor who specialises in producing Daylight or Rights of Light Reports and you would like your contact details to be listed on our website please complete our form to apply for a no obligation trial.
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