Right to Daylight Confirmed by High Court

The law relating to the right to daylight is more complicated than one would think, bearing in mind that there is, in principle, a general right to light.

Perhaps surprisingly to many, a recent case shows that the court can take the right to light as far as preventing land used as a play area (also used as an outdoor schoolroom) from being shaded by a property development.

The developer proposed to build a three-storey residential block with a café on the ground floor on a vacant site next to the land. The local planning authority gave permission, concluding that the development would improve the appearance of the neighbourhood, which is in a conservation area.

However, the development was opposed by local people on the ground that the adjacent land, which was used extensively by children at the local primary school, would lose substantial sunlight. The developer had already reduced the planned development from four storeys to three and presented evidence that only 10 per cent of the land's sunlight would be lost if the development went ahead.

The protestors applied for a judicial review, which was granted on the basis that the evidence regarding the loss of sunlight presented was based on an incorrect assumption regarding the amount of light already obstructed by a wall.