New build casts a long shadow
The right to light could do with some illumination.
Kidwelly accountant Tessa Finch used to live in 86 Station Road, but left when a new development of eco-friendly homes, in Llys y Foryd, shaded the ground floor of her home.
The new houses, built by Morgan Construction of Ferryside, won a building excellence award in 2012, but the nearest one to 86 Station Road is very close indeed. New builds can be as close as one metre from a boundary, and the boundary of no.86 is only inches from the back of the house, which has a side yard instead of a back garden. The law in cases like this allows development which many of us would call ‘unneighbourly’.
Planning law does not recognise a right to a view, either, so if a new estate replaces an outlook over open country, it’s just hard luck.
The right to light is different, though. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors publishes ‘A Clear Impartial Guide to Right to Light’, which summarises the law. It says: “A right to light may be acquired by ‘anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else’s land for 20 years without consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption for more than a year.’”
So, says the guide, “If a new building limits the amount of light coming in through a window and the level of light inside falls below the accepted level, then this constitutes an obstruction. Unless you waive your rights you are entitled to take legal action against your neighbour.”
The 20-year rule is quite a barrier, but for those in residence for that long, it is a right worth understanding.
Tessa moved out of the four-bedroomed house with the newly shaded ground floor, and is aiming to sell it. Estate agents John Francis are advertising it for £99,950, about two-thirds of the asking price of the three-bedroomed semi-detached houses in Llys y Foryd, the development which darkened her threshold.