I want to build an extension to the rear of my semi detached house this will be a permitted development right up to close to the boundary but just fractionally inside my side of the boundary as my neighbour has an existing garden wall about 1.7m high built on his side and right up to the boundary. My neighbour is concerned about the effect of my proposed extension on his light. I am concerned that if I build my extension my neighbour may then he take some action because of light issues – how can I get peace of mind that my permitted development cannot be challenged over light?

I understand that I need to give notice under the Party Wall Act – This is, if I understand correctly, in my case only relating to the excavations and is irrelevant to light issues – please confirm.

I believe the notice period to be only 1 month and not 2 monthsas I have read in a similar question on this forum ?

  • Michael Holmes

    The Right of Light is a legal principle – a form of easement established in Common Law in England and Wales – and not related to planning permission. There are, however, rules in the planning process that effectively ensure that the Right of Light is respected in relation to development proposals, to protect neighbouring properties from overshadowing, most notably the 45° rule.

    Your rear extension might well constitute permitted development, even if it is right on the boundary with your neighbour, providing the eaves height is less than 3m, and the extension does not project more than 3m from the original rear wall (for full details of the design rules relating to PD in England, download the following guide to PD http://ow.ly/i76fX

    If your proposal does not require a planning application, because it constitutes PD, then your neighbour, or the planners, cannot prevent you from building using planning law i.e. refuse permission unless the proposals are amended. However, the fact that the proposal may not require a planning application will not prevent a neighbour from seeking an injunction to prevent you from building if you are infringing their Right of Light, should they choose to do so. In this instance, you would need their consent to be able to build.

    The law and rules surrounding Right of Light claims are very complicated, and somewhat arcane, and whilst your neighbour may threaten action, the complication and cost is likely to dissuade them unless the loss of light is very significant.

    They must first prove that they have established a Right of Light (usually by enjoying unobstructed light for a period of 20 years, but also by deed or grant) and then prove that your development proposals so significantly reduce the amount of light that the room is less fit than it was for its purpose.

    If they manage this, they can prevent development, but resolution is usually through compensation payment, amendments to the design, or a combination of both.

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