Although often overlooked at all stages from site appraisal through the design process, Rights of Light really do need to be considered all through the process as the implications of not doing so can be significant for all building professionals providing a service to developers.
We often find that we do not become involved with a development project until a dispute has arisen because rights of light have not been adequately considered at an early stage in the progression of the scheme design. However, the implications of getting it wrong regarding a development (of any size including small domestic extensions) can be extremely disruptive and expensive.
Most windows in buildings which have enjoyed light through them for at least 20 years will have obtained a right to light. A development significantly affecting the light through such a window could create a legal injury. The legal remedies for an injury are either compensation or an injunction, with the latter requiring re-design or even demolition of the offending structure.
We often find that assumptions have been made that potentially affected windows do not have a right to light, but this could be an incorrect and risky assumption – such windows might be blocked-up windows, windows to non-habitable rooms or windows with obscure glazing for example. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that 20 years enjoyment now means that windows from the mid-1990s will have probably obtained a legal right of light.