Residents have enjoyed the ‘right to light’ since 1832, when the Prescription Act forbade the building of towers which block light to properties more than 20 years old without compensation. But is the pace of development in London throwing up new challenges for this politically sensitive issue?
Fast forward to 2015, and plans for London’s second tallest residential tower have snagged on the same issue. Chalegrove Properties gained planning permission in 2013 for its 75-storey City Pride scheme on the Isle of Dogs – but construction has been halted by ongoing rows over its impact on neighbours.
Now Tower Hamlets Council is considering the use of powers which would allow it to sidestep the legislation by obtaining property rights to the building, with the Cabinet voting to explore using S237 powers to speed the process. Unsurprisingly, the Conservative ward councillor has backed opponents to the move.
This episode points to a number of current trends. A number of commentators have pointed to an S106 agreement in excess of £5 million as the reason Tower Hamlets is so keen to see City Pride happen. As local government cuts bite, the potential for funding from large developments is likely to loom large in officers’ and councillors’ minds.
As demand for property in London soars (along with the skyline) tricky disputes over their impact on neighbours, such as right to light, are likely to become increasingly common. Maintaining close relations with the existing community is key if developers want to avoid arguments which risk getting caught up in the play of local politics.
PPS has been involved in tall towers across London, with recent successes including New Covent Garden Market in Wandsworth and 12-20 Wyvil Road in Lambeth. For information on how we can help with similar schemes, get in touch – we’d be happy to talk.