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<< Planning Permission Tips
ADJOINING NEIGHBOURS SIDE
Firstly, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year - you will
notice that I forgot to wish you all great tidings and things in my last
December news letter building up to the holiday period - Whoops - pressure
of work and all that!! - sorry!
light - What a bloody minefield
this topic is when developing or extending a property. This is potentially
one of the most subjective Planning issues their is. Most Planning
Departments will have guidance but I guarantee it will be specific in parts
and definitely woolly or non specific in other areas leaving the subject
wide open to interpretation.
One of the most common areas for debate is with
regard to side windows on neighbouring properties. The general rule
of thumb is whether or not the neighbours side window is a principal or secondary
window. If if is the only principal window for a neighbours room then
the chances are the Planners will pay great attention to your development
or extension. They will want to be satisfied that the window is not
interrupted from skylight by your building project. Secondary side
windows on the other hand to habitable rooms or windows to non habitable
rooms are far less contentious and are often ignored by Planning Departments
in their impact assessments. However, this is only a rule of thumb and
surprises do sometimes occur. These surprises often arise from neighbour
induced objections where the Planning Officer is forced to stick out his
neck and make a case to support your scheme against that of the neighbours
vitriol - you don't see many headless Planning Officers these days do you
- you get my point.
What about the scientific proving of light issues
I hear you ask to override the Planning Officers negative opinion? Well
yes their is guidance from the BRE called 'Site layout planning for
daylight and sunlight - A guide to good practice' by PJ Littlefair.
However, this £55 document is seriously complicated should the
need arise for proving diagrams using Waldram diagrams. The novice will never
understand it and the same applies to most Planning and Appeal Officers so
you are advised to avoid the scientific approach like the plague. Even
the official chapters of the guide clearly state that...."The advice given
here is not mandatory and this document should not be seen as an instrument
of Planning Policy" However, the guidance on whether or not your building
works actually obstruct the light to the neighbours window is actually very
useful in proving to the Planners that you DO NOT need to prove by calculation
any loss of light. You would be surprised when you do work out this
25 degree vertical reference line of light just how close some new buildings
can actually go to the troublesome windows. Therefore, if your getting
resistance to you scheme on light issues, go get this BRE Guide first from
any good stationers or the BRE direct - it could be the best £55 you
have spent in helping to get your scheme recommended for approval.
In most rights of light issues, the pragmatic and
practical assessment approach is often more productive than the scientific
process unless you are dealing with a freshly qualified Development Control
Officer who can often recall the theory of these Waldram Diagrams with distinct
ease, I would stick to the commonly understood simplistic approach of 'fact
and Degree' in your negotiations.
From a legal stand point, most solicitors will
advise you of the 20 year rule where a neighbour has a prescriptive right
to light if they have enjoyed 'uninterrupted' light for a continuous 20 year
period. Now solicitors love the BRE scientific approach as it is a
potential fee earning category for them in defending upset neighbours or
for fighting a scheme through the appeal process for a developer. Unless
you have a large pocket for to absorb abortive fees stay well clear of these
sharks and only use them as a last resort.
The conclusion to side windows
and right of light is this - Most neighbours that have a side
window facing your development or extension will complain to the Planning
Officer. Just because you chat over the fence every weekend when hanging
out the washing will not automatically preclude that neighbour from
complaining during the consultation process. Therefore completing a
risk assessment of these windows first is vital . If you discover a
neighbours principal window to a habitable room on the side of the property
adjacent your own building works DO NOT IGNORE IT. Adjust the
design of the new building to take this window into account. There
are other clever tactics and arguments you can employ that could allow closer
development if there is no other option for your scheme.
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further side window issues in more
detail and sets out various risk assessment procedures and tactics that you
can incorporate within your scheme when dealing with rights of light
issues. I would not advocate submitting any Planning scheme until you
have assessed these affecting side windows and prepared your defence.
- you have been warned.
To purchase our Maximum Build Planning
Guide simply click on one of the links below....
"Faith is to believe what you do not yet see. The
reward for this faith is to see what you believe."
Some clever sod
About the Author
MSM is a Practicing Planning Agent and building design team offering
Architectural Services to their clients specialising in residential
development. The views and opinions expressed here are personal
ones based on relevant life experiences. These views and opinions are
not intended to be actioned or copied by others.
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