• Right to light objection now under threat

    19th February 2013 | News | Claire
  • This time the government are trying to do away with our right to light.  It is one of the key basic planks of permissable objections, in that it is taken seriously.  It isn’t a clear cut case currently for refusal now though, with arguments over whether the loss of light is significant or not.  I have lost a couple of cases recently where it appeared that there was an obvious problem.  Councillors on EDDC’s development management committee did not agree, however.

    But minister say that meddlesome objectors are using this right to light, to delay development. 

    But no more!  Those developers in ministers clothing have spoken and are doing their best via yet another public consultation, to axe that right.

    Below is the story from Planning and here – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1171365/rights-light-reform-consultation-published/ ……………………………………………………………………………

    Rules under which land owners gain a ‘right to light’ after 20 years of light entering their property could be axed for new properties under proposals to reform the law around rights to light, published yesterday.

    The consultation was published by the Law Commission, which examines ways to reform areas of law on behalf of the government.

    The document says the primary aim of the review is to “investigate whether the law by which rights to light are acquired, enforced and extinguished provides an appropriate balance between the important interests of landowners and the need to facilitate the effective and efficient use of land through its development”.

    Rights to light are private property rights that benefit buildings, both residential and commercial. The rights are sometimes created deliberately, but often arise over time by “prescription”. This can happen if light comes through a window over a neighbour’s land for 20 years.

    Among four provisional proposals contained in the consultation paper, the Law Commission recommends that it should no longer be possible to acquire rights to light by prescription for homes built in the future.

    It also proposes:

    A new statutory test to clarify the current law on when courts may order a person to pay damages instead of ordering that person to demolish or stop constructing a building that interferes with a right to light.

    A new statutory notice procedure which requires those with the benefit of rights to light to make clear whether they intend to apply to the court for an injunction (ordering a neighbouring landowner not to build in a way that infringes their right to light), with the aim of introducing greater certainty into rights to light disputes.

    The Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal should be able to extinguish rights to light that are obsolete or have no practical benefit, with payment of compensation in appropriate cases.

    Among the consultation questions, document asks for evidence from consultees about “alternative ways in which rights to light disputes are commonly resolved and the costs of doing so, including evidence about the costs of a local authority using section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to resolve rights to light disputes”. Section 237 empowers local authorities to override rights, including rights to light.

    Anthony Aitken, head of planning at consultancy Colliers International said: “Modern developments are still subject to requirements for good design and take into account the impact on neighbours and their levels amenity, of which light forms part.

    “On this basis planning officials when considering development proposals take this matter into account. In recent years the ancient rights of light legislation has been used as a means to prevent or delay development, which in unacceptable in the current economic climate”.

    The consultation, which runs to 16 May, can be read here.