Right of light surveyor
A specialised area of a chartered surveyor’s role is dealing with the enjoyment of natural light in the built environment. Issues can arise as a result of a development that may interfere with the amount of light received through an opening benefiting from a right of light. The physical extent of the proposed development can be strongly influenced by the constraints imposed by the impact of such rights as determined by expert practitioners.
 Role of a right of light surveyor
The remit of a right of light surveyor often includes:
A right of light is the right to a certain amount of light and not to all of the light that was once enjoyed. Surveyors use mathematical calculations to determine whether or not a development causes an infringement. For speed and accuracy rights to light calculations are undertaken using specialist computer software.
- Calculations to confirm whether or not rights of light are injured.
- Identification of injunction risks.
- Compensation valuations where risks identified.
- Advice on the appropriate strategy for dealing with rights of light risks
In order to maximise a site’s development potential, right of light surveyors can create a maximum envelope. A maximum envelope shows the largest 3 dimensional volume that can be built without impacting rights of light. The maximum envelope can therefore be used by architects and developers when working on development designs. However, it is often possible to go beyond the maximum envelope, providing an appropriate rights of light strategy is put in place. This may include reaching agreements with affected neighbours or putting insurance in place to cover potential claims.
Where it is impractical to design around a right of light, it may be necessary for the surveyor to facilitate a compensation agreement between the affected parties. Once an agreement has been reached, this should be formalised with a deed.
In some cases it may be necessary to take out an insurance policy to cover the risk of a compensation claim or injunction. The right of light surveyor is often required to provide a report to the insurance underwriters on the risk levels associated with the development. Should a policy be implemented and a claim arise the right of light surveyor may be retained to assist with the handling of the claim.
When deciding over planning applications local authorities will be guided by the tests laid out in the Building Research Establishment (BRE) document 'Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight', A guide to good practice, 2nd Edition.
Reports are usually required to avoid any unreasonable effects on neighbouring properties. However, local authorities sometimes require a report to confirm adequate light levels within the proposed development itself.
This article was written by --Right_of_Light_Consulting.