Birmingham and Midlands towns could become a new battleground for light as developers join the skyscraper race to maximise on ground space, according to law firm Hammonds
A High Court case reported earlier this month has prompted the firm to issue an important reminder to Midlands' developers to consider rights of light issues when carrying out new developments in built up areas.
Careful planning can avoid claims for an injunction to stop the construction from going ahead, damages - or both - warns the real estate team at Hammonds in Birmingham.
In the recent case of Midtown v City of London Real Property Co, the claimants, freeholder and leaseholders of an office building, applied for an injunction against the owner of a neighbouring site.
They claimed they had acquired a right to light to the building through long use for 20 years and that the proposed development would cause substantial interference with it. The rooms in the building were normally lit by artificial light and did not need the natural light.
The claimants did not succeed in persuading the court to grant the injunction but they were entitled to damages.
The judge said that the proposed building would cause an interference with the claimants' rights to light amounting to a nuisance, even though in practical terms they were not reliant on the natural light.
"This case raised a number of issues on rights of light," said Lisa Barge, a property disputes solicitor. "The developers were fortunate that the judge decided that damages were an adequate remedy for the claimants, rather than an injunction. This judgment is a good reminder to developers to be careful about rights of light issues."