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Once you have your planning permission, there are several points to consider which are outside the remit of planning; Rights of Way, Covenants, Utilities, and often the trickier problem of Rights to Light.
A “Right to Light” is defined as an easement that gives a landowner the right to receive light through defined apertures in buildings on his or her land. An easement of light is a right to light through a window, where that light has passed over a neighbour’s land. Put another way, it is a right to prevent a neighbour from obstructing the light to a window. (Source: UK Government/Law Commission)
Rights of light for neighbouring properties are often very difficult to identify. Negotiating to reduce or release these rights can be a serious and expensive problem for developers.
The planner will have looked at the proximity of other buildings, potential daylight issues and privacy concerns. However, the planning process will not take into account the legal rights to light enjoyed by neighbouring properties. If consideration has not been given to this prior to the planning process it can result in amendments. Possible amendments include reducing the size of a development, or redesigning upper floors to allow light through. Such amendments are expensive in terms of both time and money, however. Ensuring Rights to light for a new development is thoroughly investigated beforehand is an essential part of the due diligence process.
If it is not possible to amend a design around a right of light, it may be necessary for the developers to reach an agreement with adjoining neighbours. If an agreement can been reached, this should be made formal by way of a deed – and always involves money! This agreement may be expensive, but it does provide peace of mind for the developer and eliminates the future risk.
An alternative to negotiating an agreement (which can be a lengthy and costly process) is to take out a right-to-light insurance policy. This provides a one-off cost and protection from the risk of future claims. In some cases, rather than just the claimant being compensated, developers can be given an injunction regarding their property. The costs of these proceedings can be significant. A right-to-light insurance policy protects against all aspects of these claims, from the costs to the outcome.
At Granite Building Warranties, we can offer an insurance policy which protects the developer and landowner against Right-to-Light claims.
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Granite Building Warranties Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Richdale Brokers & Financial Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Granite Building Warranties is a company registered in England and Wales (Company Number 11497543) with its registered office at 1st Floor, 5 Century Court, Tolpits Lane, Watford, WD18 9PX.”