The Rights of Light issue - Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

The Telephone House Development on York Road side is not only overbearing, - it is not designed according to BRE standards, and McBains Cooper, Light Surveyors, confirm in September 2002 that it infringes opposite houses' rights of light.

A tangle of misinformation,
wrong ordenance survey maps,
TWBC Planning Department's incompetence,
the stubborn unwillingness of CALA Group to accept that their own development will stand in its own shadow





loss of light
  • Prescription Act 1832
  • Rights of Light Act 1959
  • The Lands Tribunal - Jurisdiction
  • Information on Rights of Light (Solicitors Fladgate)




Barclays Bank January 2003 - Trinity House, Tunbridge Wells
Are the freeholders aware that a block of flats of social housing is to be put up, on the boundary of the west elevation of their property, resulting in loss of light, maintenance problems and other issues which may effect the value of their property ?

CALA Homes April - October 2002 - What is CALA Homes' point of view regarding Rights of Light infringement suffered by houses opposite their Telephone House site?

THNA October 2002 - THNA searched the archives of TWBC planning files dealing with the Telephone House site.
Documentation confirms that Rights to Light have been established since April 2002 for houses 38,40,42,44 (20 years uninterrupted enjoyment of light, due to the demolition of houses 23 and 25 York Road)

TWBC 10.09.02 - Letter from TWBC Planning and Building Control Services, Nigel Eveleigh
"Regarding rights of light, I do not consider that this issue has any bearing on the discharge of Condition 15, which relates entirely to the submission and approval of the Scheme of Works"
THNA did not seek to have the Scheme of Works turned down on the grounds of Rights of Light, but informed the Planning Department that CALA Homes has a planning consent, which cannot be implemented due to the infringement of rights of light.

THNA 08.09.02 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Planning and Building Control Services, Nigel Eveleigh
A survey done for Nos 40 and 42 York Road of which CALA is fully aware, conveys a Right of Light which, if not addressed, will result in an injunction obviating the development as presently proposed

MCBains Cooper 13.08.02 - Letter from Surveyors, McBains Cooper Property Ltd, London
copies supplied to Arthur Mann, CALA Homes (South) and Nigel Eveleigh, TWBC and Cllr Roy Bullock, Portfolio Holder Planning and Transportation.
"I have refinded the position of the 0.2% contour line in Patricia Lobo (No. 40 York Road) and Annemarie Topliss (No. 42 York Road) sitting rooms and this shows that the well-lit area will fall to around 41%. This would, in general give rise to an actionable injury and the only real remedy in residential terms, is for an injunction."

TWBC 10.06.02 - Letter from TWBC Borough Solicitor and Secretary Martin Harris to resident of York Road
"my role is to advise the Council and there would be a conflict of interest amongst other matters"

TWBC 28.05.02 - Letter from TWBC Borough Solicitor and Secretary, Martin Harris
"I regret to inform you that I cannot advise you whether you are in a position to register a right of light in the local land charges register."

THNA 27.05.02 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Borough Solicitor and Secretary, Martin Harris
Will the Council be able to reimburse us for the cost of light survey bearing in mind the special circumstances of this development.
You will recall that the scheme was recommended by officers; there also were errors in the shadow diagrams submitted by the developer and not detected by planning officers

letter 24.05.02 - Resident's letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Borough Solicitor and Secrtary, Martin Harris
Following a recent letter on the 1st May 2002 by the Telephone House Neighbours Association to Mr. John Haynes, it appears the developer introduced incorrect evidence about loss of light caused by proposed buildings

Nat West 09.05.02 - Gleeds Construction Consultants occupy Trinity House, Tunbridge Wells. This grade II listed building is adjacent to Telephone House, York Road side.
The attitude of the tenants and the freeholder's (NatWest) agent, DTZ, London: "No objection please, we are of the same trade!"

TWBC 07.05.02 - Letter from TWBC Operational Services, John Haynes
"I do not believe that I can advise further on this matter [the Right of Light Act 1959] but have copied your letter and this reply to our Borough Solicitor"

THNA 01.05.02 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Operational Services, John Haynes, Director
Surely, you will now understand our reasoning that the Council has some responsibility in this issue. For this reason, I repeat my request that the Council should accept to pay our reasonable costs for an independent survey on the issue of loss of light and our rights of light

loss of light April 2002 - The Shadow Diagrams of Schatunowski Brooks, London
TWBC planning department trusted blindfold the expertise of the developer Crest Nicholson with regard to overshadowing

TWBC 30.07.01 - Letter from TWBC Operational Services, John Haynes
"You are correct that my advice to the Council meeting held on 23 May 2001, in a practical sense, advised Members not to take into account your Association's request that evening.
[THNA had asked Councillors to remove Policy H6(a) as it conflicted with the pending decision of the Inspectorate]
If I have understood the point you are making with respect to Policy H6(a) with respect to aggrievement, I would doubt that the Council would have any responsibility."

THNA 24.07.01 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Director of Operational Services, John Haynes
As far as the Rights of Light is concerned, residents would not need to think about filing an application with the Land Tribunal or the Land Charge Registry, if Policy H6 (a) / Telephone House [Local Plan Review] did not directly or indirectly raise this issue.

TWBC 13.06.01 - Letter from TWBC Operational Services, John Haynes
"Clearly therefore this [Rights of Light issue] is not a matter for the Planning Department"

THNA 30.05.01 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Director of Operational Services, John Haynes
Should apartment blocks or houses on York Road be built almost straight onto the pavement [referring to Policy H6(a) Local Plan Review, which was similar to the refused Planning application and which was not yet decided by the Appeal Inspector !] and to the previously proposed heights, we wish to register our interest in the easement law of Rights of Light

loss of light May 2001 - THNA, Samuel McDowell, statement during the Public Inquiry of Telephone House
The proposed blocks of flats would be set close to the street and houses opposite. They would not only steal the light of the houses opposite but would stand in their own deep shadow

TWBC 15.02.01 - Letter from TWBC Planning and Building Control Services, Ruth Chambers
"it was necessary to come to a view to whether the loss of light would be "undue" in order to justify a ground of refusal of planning permission. It was concluded by Officers that, from a planning point of view, such an objection could not be sustained"
The issue of loss of light was subsequently negotiated out in the Statement of Common Ground between TWBC and Crest Nicholson Residential before the Public Inquiry in May 2001.
In September 2002 residents have the confirmation that the development is not to BRE standards (which would have been a planning matter) and also infringes their rights of light.

contents 26.01.01 - THNA letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Planning and Building Control Services, Ruth Chambers
The loss of light issue in the current re-development proposal impacts negatively not only on the houses opposite but also on houses on the North East side during the evening and houses on the North West side in the morning

TWBC 25.11.99 - Letter from TWBC Planning and Building Control Services, Mark Berry
"Whilst I cannot confirm or deny what you say about the possible redevelopment of the site I am at liberty to explain the planning application process in the event that an application is made for redevelopment"
5 days later a planning application was filed

Crest Nicholson 25.11.99 - Letter from Schatunowski Brooks (surveyor for Crest Nicholson Residential, South East) to Resident of York Road
"Slightly contrary to my original thoughts the loss of light is not as bad as I considered and I believe that your room will in ordinary legal connotations remain well lit.
Nonetheless Nicholson Estates would be happy to settle a sum of money on this.

letter 06.11.99 - Resident's letter to Schatunowski Brooks (surveyor for Crest Nicholson Residential, South East)
The proposed block of flats (Telephone House) immediately opposite this property (32 York Road), would indeed result in a loss of light that is very serious for me

letter 01.11.99 - Resident's letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Principal Planning Officer Mark Berry
We would like to know the procedure, should planning permission be sought. Presumably all those in the area, who would be affected by such a development, will be notified and given the opportunity to express their views and opinions. Also that objections will be given serious considerations

Crest Nicholson 22.10.99 - Letter from Schatunowski Brooks (surveyor for Crest Nicholson Residential, South East) to Resident of York Road
"We recognise that there will be a loss of light to your property and my clients are prepared and indeed of course willing to compensate you for the loss"

Crest Nicholson 08.10.99 - Letter from Schatunowski Brooks (surveyor for Crest Nicholson Residential, South East) to Resident of York Road
"I would welcome the opportunity of discussing the scheme with you and any concerns that you may have about it"


contents The Telephone House Neighbours Association informs on CALA Homes (South) Development:
CALA Group acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1, Kent.