Terraced houses

There are several factors to consider when planning or proposing a development. Whether you’re the developing party or a neighbour, it is important to know the basics of Rights of Light, Sunlight and Daylight.

Before understanding their differences, let us first discuss each assessment.

Rights of Light

right to light is a legal right or an easement between landowners which allows them to receive light from the sky through windows and apertures in their property without disturbances.

According to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) ‘Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight’, a right to light is infringed when the light received by a property reduces to below sufficient levels after a development was erected.

This easement can be acquired if a window on a property has been in place for more than 20 years or there has been an uninterrupted enjoyment of light in that period (Section III of Prescription Act 1832). However, a landowner will have no rights of light if it was excluded in the deed.

It is recommended to conduct rights of light assessment at the earliest time possible to avoid serious consequences including monetary compensation to affected neighbours.

Sunlight and Daylight

Sunlight and Daylight assessment, on the other hand, measures the natural light received by dwellings and properties that need adequate levels of daylight and sunlight such as hospitals and educational buildings.

When assessing Sunlight and Daylight, the impact of a proposed development on the natural light received by surrounding properties is inspected. This is to help planning authorities determine whether a proposed development is suitable or inappropriate for the area.

In our professional opinion, Sunlight and Daylight assessment should be conducted at the beginning of planning and should be submitted along with planning applications as support.

Critical Differences

Now, what are the critical differences between the two?

Although both important considerations during the planning process, the two differ in such a way that Rights of Light is a legal issue while Sunlight and Daylight is a planning issue and a means that help Local Planning Authorities determine if a proposed development will cause injury to surrounding properties.

In terms of assessment criteria, Rights of Light measures the sky factor, while Sunlight and Daylight reports use the 25 Degree and 45 Degree Rule, Vertical Sky Component, No Sky Line, Daylight Distribution or Average Daylight Factor and Annual Probable Sunlight Hours.

It is also important to note that Rights of Light only consider light from the sky alone and does not include sunlight. There is no right to sunlight.

This article was written by Heidecel Serrano. 

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