Removing the right to light

I have to admit that I don\’t like the sound of this.

In a new assault on planning rules, the Law Commission began a consultation, which is backed by ministers, which could lead to the centuries-old entitlement to daylight being ditched to stop home owners holding up building projects.

It\’s a Common Law right:

The so-called “right to light”, which is under threat in the commission’s consultation, goes back hundreds of years with cases dating to 1611 in England. Households can gain the right if the light has been constant for at least 20 years.

And there\’s good reason for it. Natural light coming into the property is as much a property right as, say, being free of the stench of sewage is. It\’s one of the bundle of things that make up that \”private property\” idea.

As such, if someone wants to take away your light they must compensate you for it. Just as they would if they wanted to take away your garden.

Prof 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”.

Yes, I\’m sure that\’s so.

“This project examines a difficult area where a balance is needed between the rights of different landowners,” she said.

I\’m entirely unconvinced that striking a balance is achieved by abolishing an ancient right.

I assume that this is something to do with the spivs in the property development wing of the Tory Party.

12 comments on “Removing the right to light

  1. “Prof 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”.”

    Given I’ve not yet seen any poll that indicated a majority of the public answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Do you want to see more high-rise building in your already overcrowded city?’ I can only concur with Tim’s assessment.

  2. Oh Timothy! Whatever happened to your “build lots more houses all over the Green Belt policy”? Didn’t it occur to you that once one promise or right was torn up, there’d be a bonfire of rights and promises?

  3. Rights and promises aren’t the same thing; and no one’s rights are infringed by tarmacking the green belt.

    Besides, the issue of light ain’t that important when you’re building houses in the suburbs.

  4. @ JuliaM

    Ah yes, but she did say ‘high-quality’ development. Few of the British public have the faintest idea what a ‘high-quality’ residential high-rise might be like… on account of the fact that 99% of the built examples they might have encountered are ‘shit’.

    Many want, and always will, a garden and a garage and the quieter life of low-density living. Which is fine. But if we had more properly-proportioned and well-built city accomodation.. instead of all the faintly-glorified student-style 0.5-bed shoe boxes that are everywhere.. then lots more might decide that the downsides of low-density living (long commutes, limited amenities, no good pubs less than a £30 taxi ride away) don’t outweigh the upsides.

    Or, possibly, not. But, right now, we’ve f-all chance of finding out.

  5. “It’s a Common Law right”

    Does that in some way make it a more important right than a right/expectation granted by regulation or legislation? (Eg the expectation given by planning laws that your house overlooking green fields will continue to overlook said fields.)

    I can see an argument for that, but I’m just wondering if I am picking up some implication you never actually intended.

  6. I wish we had a right to light. It’s not development that blocks our light but too many trees.

    Would a right to light stop someone allowing a tree to grow and block light? What’s the difference between that and a house.

    Anyway, houses have to have at least 20m or so separation from usable windows so that you’re not overlooking. I would have thought that would allow enough light into a house except in the depths of winter.

  7. “your house overlooking green fields will continue to overlook said fields.”

    What they do round here is build an arc of houses all with lovely views, sell them, then build the next arc in front of them, all again with lovely views, and so on.

    Mind you, this is the fens and almost all of them are on flood plains. They need to keep pumping out the foundations while working on them, then they turn off the pumps. Good luck to them, I suppose. Except that my property, deliberately chosen for having been built on high ground that didn’t flood in the middle ages, now gets rated as being on a flood plain rather than, as was the case before recent development, not. It’s buggered the postcode, basically, for the purpose of insurance.

  8. Hmm, so we have the Greens offering you feudal peasantry on the land and the academic elite offering you ghettos. Progress, eh?

    By the way, just a guess, but I bet Lizzie lives in an area where no new building will ever be built because of the restrictive planning laws.

  9. Dearieme-

    This appears to actually be more of the green-wellied shire communism policy of forcing everybody into State-mandated “high density developments” in cities so that they can stried across the greensward with their bloody golden bloody labradors moaning about socialists in splendid bucolic isolation.

  10. Pingback: A Link to the Past 12/03/2013 | In Defence of Liberty

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