Rights of Light
Avison Young’s specialist Rights to Light (law) and Daylight & Sunlight (planning) have been industry leaders in this complex and evolving field for over 35 years across Ireland and the UK.
We act on projects of all sizes, ranging from large scale masterplans, significant tower developments, to small complex schemes in sensitive environments.
The team has been instructed on some of the most complex and high-profile developments in Ireland and the UK over the past four decades, from our offices in Dublin, London, and Manchester.
Avison Young act for Developers, Investment Funds, Local Planning Authorities/ Development Corporations and Adjoining owners. We also offer RICS accredited Expert Witness services.
Rights of Light
A right of light is simply a type of easement i.e. a legal right to use neighbouring land(s) for a specified purpose, in this case to receive adequate light. Although simple in theory, these matters are frequently complex in practice and therefore it is critical to have timely expert advice. Rights of Light in Ireland has become more complex following the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act (2009).
Rights of Light disputes mainly arise when one party is seeking to build on their own land and in doing so would interfere with an easement enjoyed by a neighbouring owner. Depending on the extent of the interference, an affected party may be entitled to monetary damages (compensation) or injunctive relief.
Particularly in dense urban environments it is perhaps no surprise that Rights of Light can be a significant potential constraint to development if the risk is not professionally managed, particularly if dealing with multiple claims.
Avison Young has one of the most experienced teams in the country and were also the first to have a national UK and Irish presence, meaning we have dealt with many high profile and complex cases in England, Wales and Ireland.
Over the years we have had involvement with several of the leading Rights of Light cases in England, including:
Midtown Ltd v City of London Real Property Co Ltd  and Tamares (Vincent Square) Limited v Fairpoint Properties (Vincent Square) Limited [2006/7].
Avison Young been acting as Expert Witness on a number of high profile litigation cases in Ireland over recent years.
Our remit usually includes:
- Developing bespoke Rights of Light risk mitigation strategies;
- Pro-active Rights of Light estate management;
- Pre-acquisition site appraisals;
- Production of 3D Rights of Light building envelopes/ site massing optimisation studies;
- Undertaking detailed CAD technical studies;
- Negotiating release of potential Rights of Light constraints and draft agreements;
- Recommending Rights of Light compensation values;
- Acting as Expert Witness (RICS Accredited);
- Assisting with placing specialist Rights of Light insurance cover.
Daylight and Sunlight are types of amenity enjoyed by existing neighbours or future occupiers of a proposed development.
Local Planning Authority policy will typically necessitate a formal report considering potential impacts to existing neighbours and the quality of provision within proposed dwellings in order to validate a submitted planning application.
Daylight, Sunlight and Overshadowing matters can and do often form reasons for refusal to grant planning permission. As such, they can become one of the main considerations in a subsequent appeal.
In addition, there are Daylighting credits available under Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating and certification, which apply to a wide range of buildings types.
We have over 35 years of experience of successfully assisting our clients with:
- Developer/building owner strategic advice;
- Pre-acquisition advice;
- Indicative 3D CAD building envelopes/ site massing optimisation studies;
- Undertaking detailed CAD technical studies;
- Advising on BREEAM credits;
- Design advice to mitigate potential risks;
- Pre application liaison with Local Planning Authority officers and An Bord Pleanála;
- Technical adviser to Local Planning Authorities;
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAR) chapters and formal reporting;
- Planning Appeals, including attendance at inquiry.
With the increase in tall glazed buildings and their proximity to neighbouring buildings, rail tracks, roads and airports it is important to establish whether any mitigation measures are required to prevent hazardous situations due to reflected sunlight.
Reflected sunlight (Solar Glare) from the surface of buildings has the potential to create significant hazards, potentially endangering life.
Road junctions and rail tracks are two areas which are particularly sensitive to this type of hazard, as signal lights can be missed due to excessive dazzle. In addition, occupants of adjoining buildings can also be affected by reflected sunlight, making the workplace or home less comfortable and possibly cause accidents.
We have particular expertise dealing with these matters in relation to rail side development, given the increase in new heavily glazed buildings in very close proximity to stations and signals.
We can conduct detailed computer studies to predict the times of the year/month/day where there is the potential to produce these types of effect and then report on how likely they are to create a hazardous situation.
As our cities and towns feature increasing amounts of artificial light, its negative effects on human health and well-being are becoming better understood. In addition, wasted energy use contributes to unnecessary resource depletion and environmental degradation.
Local Planning Authorities are increasingly concerned with the potential for new development to adversely increase existing light pollution or create new problems. They also frequently receive objections related to light pollution during the determination process, meaning significant delay if a technical study needs to be commissioned at short notice.
We can use sophisticated computer modelling to determine the potential artificial light spillage and compare this against the baseline or existing scenario, considering in detail the impact to sensitive uses, i.e. such as dwellings, hospitals etc.