Will big developments be prioritised over the age old right to light?

19 February 2013

The Law Commission consultation in England could result in the age old right to light being scrapped to protect residential, office and commercial development.

In 2010, a Leeds business man persuaded a High Court judge to rule in his favour in a dispute about his right to light. Mr Heany used the 400 year old law, designed to allow people to have sunlight in their homes, to establish that his right to light was being infringed by a developer who had extended the office block next door upwards by two floors.

The building industry, alarmed by the potential consequences of the ruling, persuaded the government to look at the law.  The Law Commission began a consultation which could lead to the centuries old entitlement to daylight being ditched, to prevent home owners from delaying building projects.

Elizabeth Cooke, the Law Commissioner leading the project, said that while such a right was important "there is also a public interest in the development of the modern, high – quality residential, office and commercial development that we need in our town and city centres". 

Any such changes to the legislation would take effect in England and Wales however Northern Ireland tends to follow suit when new legislation is enacted in England and Wales and we wait with interest to see whether this will be the case.

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