Last edited 30 Nov 2020

Right to a view

There is no right to a view in English law, as this would too broadly restrict the ability of other people to develop land. This position dates back to the 1610 Aldred case which held that rights had to be sufficiently definite to be enforceable.

It is possible however to enter into a contract or licence with another land owner to agree that a view will not be obstructed, but a payment would be chargeable, which may be a single payment or regular payments, and the agreement would only be between the parties to the contract, it would not pass on after sale of the land unless the agreement obliged the owners to ensure there was a similar agreement with subsequent owners.

Alternatively, the parties could agree a restrictive covenant, obliging one party not to obstruct the view of the other. This would pass on with the sale of the land, but again would be likely to require payment. Restrictive covenants can be removed by application to the Lands Tribunal (now the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber)), but only if the reason for the restrictive covenant no longer exists.

In the 2009 case of Dennis v Davies, properties were sold on the basis that they had a river view. A restrictive covenant required that owners would not cause nuisance or annoyance to their neighbours. It was held that a proposed extension that would block the view of the river would cause annoyance, and so the works were prevented.

In addition, certain views in London are protected. The London View Management Framework helps preserve London's character and built heritage by setting out policies for managing the impact of developments on key panoramas, river prospects and townscape views. Proposed developments within a designated view should seek to make a positive contribution, giving consideration to their impact on the foreground, middle ground and background of views.

See London View Management Framework for more information.

There are also certain rights to light. Rights to light generally become an issue when a new development, or proposed development affects an established access to light of an adjoining property. Rights to light also apply to obstructions caused by trees, hedges and so on, but there are no rights to light for open ground.

See Rights to light for more information.

Because of these complexities, it is important when considering purchasing a land or property, to carefully consider what rights or restrictions apply, both in terms of protecting a view or being prevented from making changes.

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