Rights of Light

At AA Projects, rights of light is a specialist service offered by our experienced building surveying team. Our expertise in this field can benefit developers or the potentially injured party.

With many clients currently establishing viable options for site development, our team is now regularly contacted by developers and architects who wish to minimise risk of rights to light issues during the design stages and ensure that any issues are correctly assessed as part of early investment appraisals.

Many developers are now advised by their project funders, that confirmation that rights of light has been considered during the design stages, is a condition precedent to funding credit approval. Developers will expect that their appointed architect will have dealt with this risk.

Rights of Light are civil matters between neighbours and are independent of the planning system. Even if planning permission has been granted, care should be taken not to cause an infringement to the rights to light enjoyed by nearby buildings. In England and Wales, a right of light is usually acquired under the Prescription Act 1832. Under the Act, a right of light automatically occurs once light has been enjoyed through defined apertures of a building for an uninterrupted period of 20 years.

Our rights of light surveyors have extensive knowledge and experience of current case law and can be proactive, helping developers to find a practical resolution before building commences. This can include offering advice on redesign, adopting computer analysis techniques to define maximum building envelopes or the preparation of light obstruction notices. Once an infringement has occurred, our services include handling dispute resolution and providing expert witness services.

As part of the rights to light service provided by AA Projects, we monitor any court cases to ensure that we remain at the forefront of providing advice to developers, architects and owners affected by development. Every case has its own intricacies and the decisions do not always follow a set pattern. However, over a large number of years a general pattern has evolved that is used to provide advice. Every so often a case is decided that shifts away from generally accepted practices so it is important to monitor them and we need to look at the precise details of the case to establish why and adjust advice to clients.

In recent years the following cases have had a large impact on how rights of light issues are dealt with:

HKR UK II (CHC) Ltd (“Highcross”) v Marcus Heaney - where the developer was ordered to demolish part of the two new storeys constructed on their prestigious office building due to a rights of light injury to a boardroom in Marcus Heaney's property.

Regan v Paul Properties - where an injunction was awarded against Paul Properties for the part removal of a new penthouse constructed on top of their existing apartment block due to a rights of light injury to Mr Regan's living room.

Tamares Ltd v Fairpoint Properties Ltd - where the judge allowed the offending building to remain but awarded £50,000 in compensation for a rights of light injury to two windows lighting a basement staircase.

These cases represent a risk to developers and it is essential before proceeding to establish if a rights of light injury has been caused and then negotiate with the neighbours to find a satisfactory solution either by way of compensation or amendment of the proposed building.

Our services include:

  • Dispute resolution
  • Expert witness
  • Preparation and registration of light obstruction notices
  • Computer analysis and 3D modelling techniques