It can be a concern when you find out your neighbours wish to build an extension close to your home. You may go from looking at your garden and basking in the sunlight to looking at a brick wall with a loss of daylight and sunlight. You may be concerned that your home will be cast into shadow or that the loss of light will affect the value of your home. We understand the complexity of each situation completely and work with you to try and put your mind at ease. The most important thing in these situations is to know your rights.
Whilst your neighbours will have their reasons for extending their home, you want to ensure your home is protected against adverse impacts and the loss of such daylight and sunlight.
Know Your Rights as a neighbour to a development
Local Authorities have policies that seek to ensure access to daylight and sunlight to neighbouring habitable room windows. They also check that sunlight to a neighbours’ principal garden is not adversely affected by a development.
Even in the absence of such a specific local policy, the National Planning Policy stipulates that amenity should be considered.
If your local council’s policies are not clear on daylight and sunlight issues, failure to assess can still potentially enable you to challenge a planning decision.
There is a nationally recognised publication used by design practitioners, planning consultants and Local Authority Planning Departments used to assess good Daylight and Sunlight design. “Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight – A Guide to Good Practice, 2nd Edition” by Paul Littlefair, also known as BRE 209, is referred to by many when consulting on daylight and sunlight issues and the individuals right to light. Whilst it’s not a mandatory document, it has the respect of many.
Planning permission can be refused if your neighbour’s extension is deemed to cause an adverse impact on your home. They may also be asked to amend their design to remove any harmful effect on your property.
There are specific ‘rules of thumb’ that would be an indicator of risk if your neighbours’ proposal fails. In such circumstances, the Local Authority Planning Department should ask your neighbour (the Applicant) to submit a Daylight and Sunlight Assessment to accompany their planning application.
This document should inform the Planning Officer(s) of the proposed development’s impact on your property.
Some neighbours do not feel comfortable with the idea of the Planning Officers relying upon a report prepared by a consultant instructed (and paid for) by the neighbour.
If you would prefer to commission your report to accompany your objection(s), we can help you.
Rights To Light can be a complicated topic to get your head around. At Smith Marston, we can advise you on every outcome. Whether you’re a homeowner or deal with larger-scale residential or commercial properties, we have the experience and skills to protect your property.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to planning permission and right to light. We start with a telephone consultation to assess your individual case.
If the development is still in the planning process we will let you know if you have valid grounds to challenge it. If the development already has planning permission, there is still the possibility of reducing its size or receiving compensation if your property has a legal right of light. Right to light is obtained by enjoying the light uninterrupted and without permission for 20 years. An ‘adequate’ amount of light is the equivalent of the amount of light one foot away from a candle. If the amount of ‘adequate’ light in the room is reduced below 50-55% of the area because of the development, then the loss of light is considered actionable in court.
How Can We Help
If we determine that you have a valid case, we can represent you. We understand the importance of neighbourly relations and strive to maintain these throughout. We will work with you on how to approach your neighbours to remain amicable.
We will write to the Local Authority on your behalf if the matter is still at planning consideration stage. We can also try to use your right to light to reduce the size of the development. In some cases, this can prevent the development altogether. We can also advise on the compensation you may receive should you surrender your right to light completely.
Expert Witness Evidence
Typically it is the responsibility of those planning to undertake the work to produce a set of rights of light and planning calculations. In situations where this doesn’t happen, or their accuracy is questioned, we are able to undertake checks on your behalf.
We work in accordance with BRE 209 when conducting our planning tests and will check the accuracy and interpretation of the numerical data provided if they provided their own report.
Going to court can be an expensive outcome for both parties and therefore should be a last resort. However, should it occur, we can help provide you with all the necessary information and evidence for submission to the court.
Planning an Objection?
Whilst we can calculate Daylight and Sunlight losses to your property that a neighbour’s development may cause, we are not Planning Consultants. Therefore, our focus can only concentrate on the aspects relating to Daylight and Sunlight. This is only one consideration of often many policy considerations. You may wish to consider objecting fully and as thoroughly as you can. We recommend you seek advice from other professionals on whether you may have reasonable grounds for objecting to a planning application.
Should you need such advice, Help Me Object are a company that can offer bespoke advice to help prepare a Planning Objection. They can provide letter templates should you wish to compose an object yourself. They have already had good results for a number of our clients. Contact them on the earlier link, and see how they can help you too.