Rights to Light – Concerned Home Owner Stymies Hotel Development

Hospital or OfficeRights to daylight really do matter to homeowners and, if you feel that yours is under threat, you should consult a solicitor right away. The point was powerfully made by a case in which the High Court heeded an objector’s concerns and overturned planning permission for a multi-million-pound hotel development.

Developers had been granted planning consent by the local authority to demolish an outdated office block to make way for the new hotel. Residents of a neighbouring street supported redevelopment of the site in principle, but said that the proposal would lead to unacceptable loss of light to their homes.

The council had followed the advice of one of its planning officers, who had said that loss of light arising from developments was not uncommon in heavily built-up areas. Only some of the homes on the relevant street would be affected and guidelines concerning loss of daylight had to be applied flexibly and sensibly.

After one resident launched a judicial review challenge, however, the Court found that flaws in the officer’s advice had resulted in councillors being significantly misled. They had not been informed that both the total amount of daylight penetrating a building and the distribution of that light were important factors. Councillors were not therefore in a position to form a judgment on the impact of the development on daylight distribution within affected homes, nor were they aware that they needed to do so. The planning permission was quashed.