GIA at MIPIM 2017

GIA will be attending MIPIM again this year!

With our teams from London and Manchester in attendance, we are looking forward to meeting contacts old and new - as well as showcasing VUCITY, our highly accurate 3D digital city models of London and Manchester. 

If you would like to meet with a member of the team, contact us via our emails below.

GIA Team Gherkin Challenge

A team of super fit men and women from GIA are taking on the Gherkin Challenge on Sunday in order to raise money for the NSPCC. 

The NSPCC is a charity which helps to prevent abuse, neglect, and other mistreatment of children. The charity operates worldwide and has helped millions of children to overcome their struggles and fight for their childhood. We hope to raise as much money as possible for this very worthy cause.

The people taking part in this challenge are Lucy Lovsey, Charlotte Bassett, Anna Fritz, Katie Hannon, Katie Harrington, Elizabeth Houghton, Elliot Hathaway and Kayleigh Gallagher. They have all been training for the event by running up and down the Southbank steps, making sure they run up the escalators on the tube and some have even hit the stair-master at the gym. They're all ready to kill it on Sunday!  

We have set up a JustGiving page to raise money - any donations would be greatly appreciated!

GIA Charity Donation

In early 2015, Royal Trinity Hospice was nominated and chosen as our Charity of the Year.

Today, GIA staff met with Caitlin Austin, a representative from Royal Trinity Hospice, to present her with a cheque for £6800.  This money was raised through numerous staff efforts; including our monthly cooked breakfast offerings, staff quiz nights and bake sales.

It was great to hear from Caitlin how our hard earned efforts will be spent and how this money will make a difference to the patients and their families associated with the Hospice.

A big thank you to all of you who contributed you time, effort and money to support Royal Trinity Hospice through GIA.

If you would like to learn more about Royal Trinity Hospice, please visit their website, www.royaltrinityhospice.london for more information. 

VUCITY AT MIPIM

VUCITY launches at MIPIM 2016 in Cannes

MIPIM 2016 takes place over 4 days and showcases the latest innovations in property with a real estate exhibition, conference and networking event gathering. It offers the perfect platform upon which to launch VUCITY, the first fully interactive 3D digital city model. VUCITY is a groundbreaking tool with which planners can understand the restrictions they face for their proposed developments. It seamlessly combines current, proposed and consented developments to display a London of the future. In addition to this, real-time Transport for London camera feeds have been embedded in the model, making the model sophisticated and connected to the city in a way no other model has ever been. Other features of the model include overlay of London sight-lines, sunlight paths and also transport links in order to help planners understand the proposals in relation to their surroundings. The model currently stretches from Earls Court all the way to ExCel, continuing up to Old Street and then the final stretch down to Battersea.

Vertex Modelling and GIA travelled down to Cannes, on the French Riviera, and set up the display in the Innovation Forum. The Innovation Forum is a pavillion next to Palais des Festivals which gathers all innovation stakeholders to showcase the most innovative solutions and practices to increase the value of property assets. In addition to the displays in the exhibition hall, there are also a variety of conferences taking place in the MIPIM Innovation Forum and its extension, including: case studies, pitching sessions at the Vitra lounge or private talks with famous architects and startups. VUCITY is being displayed at Stand C21.E3 for the duration of MIPIM 2016.

The first two days have got off to a good start with many people coming to view VUCITY  using our giant tablets. What people seem to find particularly impressive is the ability to view the sight-lines from ground level and the ability to view London’s skyscraper cluster with the addition of the consented and proposed developments.

 

Radiance Study Secures Appeal for Berkeley Homes Sevenoaks Development

Berkeley Homes proposed redevelopment of two adjacent sites in London Road will deliver 66 new 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, as well as 916 sqm of commercial space. 

One of the reasons for the original refusal at planning was for the quality of daylight within the proposed scheme, with a number of bedrooms falling below the BRE guidelines. In order to assist the Inspector in interpreting the BRE guidelines, we submitted a study which demonstrated that a small change to the width of the windows serving these bedrooms would make them comply with the BRE guidelines. What the study also showed was that the actual change in daylight levels would be barely perceivable. 

The Inspector accepted that this was the case, that the BRE guidelines should be interpreted flexibly, and allowed the Appeal.



GIA Manchester office opens

GIA are pleased to announce the opening of their office in Manchester, to support the thriving local market and growing regional development expected for 2016.

Sam Wallis, formerly of Malcolm Hollis, is heading up the new office in Commercial Street as Managing Partner. He brings more than 10 years of specialist Rights of Light and Daylight and Sunlight experience to the company. His team will also offer advice on neighbourly matters and building consultancy.

One of the first projects the team will work on is Renaker’s Owen Street development. The proposal by Simpson Haugh and Partners is for four towers at 37, 44, 50 and 64 stories in height, providing 1,400 apartments. Once complete the tallest of the towers, at 205 meters high, will become the tallest building outside of London.

This is just one example of the numerous quality developments underway in Manchester and the North at present. Sam and GIA are excited to be working with some of the leading developers, architects and planning consultants in the area. We look forward to bringing the same innovation, expertise and experience to our work in the North, as we have in our 22 years at the forefront of such development advice in London.

Sam Wallis, Managing Partner, Manchester office Rights Of Light, Daylight & Sunlight, Building Consultancy T: 0161 672 5101 Contact Sam Wallis


Sam Wallis, Managing Partner, Manchester office
Rights Of Light, Daylight & Sunlight, Building Consultancy
T: 0161 672 5101
Contact Sam Wallis

High Street Quarter, Hounslow - Barratt London Development

Barratt London have acquired planning permission for their proposed development of Hounslow's High Street Quarter. The scheme is comprised of a 27 storey tower, shops, a 10 screen cinema and over 500 new residential units. 

There were many objections from local residents concerning loss of daylight/sunlight and overshadowing due to the fact that losses of over 40% to the VSC were recorded.  The site is currently a large open car park and therefore large percentage losses were recorded due to the already existing high daylight and sunlight values.  Arguments were based on retained values and the uncharacteristic open site within the city centre (just off the high street).

http://www.barrattdevelopments.co.uk/showcase/hounslow-high-street-quarter-london

Lord's Cricket Ground

The new £78m Tavern and Allen Stand (aka the South Western Project) at Lord’s has been given the green light by Westminster City Council after significant opposition from residents regarding Daylight/Sunlight. GIA’s involvement has been key in this project for the past 16 months, and it follows on from our success working on the Warner Stand in 2013/2014.

Works are planned to start on site in 2019, increasing the capacity by 1,082 to 5,200 seats on a single structure; the plans will also include a new Thomas Lord Building and Tavern Pub.

Scott v Aimiuwu

 

The First Rights of Light Case Following Coventry v Lawrence

Most developers will be eager to hear (probably more than the election results!) that the first Court Case on Rights of Light has determined following both Coventry v Lawrence and the Law Commission which presented themselves last year.  However, it is unfortunately not too significant.

 The Facts……

 This is a first instance County Court Judgement and therefore an unreported case.  However, whilst it does not offer precedent it does indicate the direction in which Judges are oriented following Coventry v Lawrence. The Recorder in this case was Edward Cole, a QC from Falcon Chambers.  

 This is clearly a domestic dispute between two neighbours living in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, where there was obviously some cordial relationship before this dispute went into Court.  In essence there had been discussions between the two owners about their own separate building plans to their own homes, but the clarity and nature of those conversations appear nebulous.  The Defendants suggested that the nature of those discussions created an estoppel and thus where the light injury was being claimed as actionable, this would mean that there would be no remedy for either Injunction or Damages. 

 The Defendants had obtained two planning permissions and built out their latest consent in May 2013 and by the time the Claimants issued Court proceedings for an Injunction, it was virtually complete. 

Thus the Judge had to determine if there was no estoppel whether a mandatory Injunction (i.e. one that part of a building that has caused an actionable infringement to be removed) should be granted or whether Damages would suffice.  The first question of course is whether an actionable injury had actually occurred to the affected areas of the neighbouring property which constituted a garage at ground floor level, which was also used for some administrative and DIY purposes, as well as a bathroom at 1st floor level. 

The Judgement……

 The Judge considered that there had been no estoppel in this case.  There was not sufficient evidence to suggest that the Claimants had ever agreed or supported the proposed extension.  The fact that when they had written to the Local Authority and not formally objected to the proposals, particularly in relation to loss of light, was not seen as a significant point.  The Judge considered that it was likely that the Claimants were seeking to maintain (at that time!) a reasonable relationship with their neighbour. They were simply highlighting that they did have windows on their boundary as an invitation for the Local Authority to consider whether permission should be granted on these grounds.

The two rights of light experts effectively agreed the overall injury to the ground floor garage and bathroom and concluded, particularly at ground floor, that there would be an actionable injury in that location. 

The Judge considered the basis on how that advice was reached i.e. through the 50/50 rule on the Waldram diagram method and whilst no other form of analysis was considered, he was clear that it was simply a useful rule of thumb which in some circumstances could be deemed mean and in others generous.  He did confirm that in his view an actionable infringement had occurred in this situation and therefore was left to consider whether injunction or damages were the appropriate remedy. 

In relation to consideration of injunction, the Judge clearly referred to Coventry v Lawrence but also the four Shelfer tests as well.  He considered that in reviewing the Shelfer tests within the context of Coventry v Lawrence that each of the four questions could be responded to positively and therefore Damages were the appropriate remedy.  He particularly saw this as oppressive to ask for an extension to be taken down in terms of the fact that the impact to the Defendants would outweigh the benefit to the Claimants. 

In terms of Damages, he referred to traditional Damages by reference to diminution in value, the Wrotham Park “negotiated damages” position but isolated the profit related damages aspect.  He found that the simple book-value approach and thus looking at true diminution in value would produce too low a figure. Equally, on the other hand, that the profit related element would not be appropriate in this case, probably because he was considering the extension to a family home.  In his view the hypothetical negotiation between parties as was established within the Wrotham Park case was the way forward. 

As a result, the book-value figure of £11,569 was seen as too low, equally at one third of the profit, £65,000 was considered excessive.  In terms of the rights of light loss the Judge considered a figure of £30,000 was appropriate. 

Some consideration was also given to the fact that whilst the impacted area formed secondary accommodation, (it was considered unlikely) that it could be altered to habitable space.

The Judgement did not go onto address the question of costs which could help one understand where his sympathy’s lay.

The Implications…

As an unreported first instance County Court Judgement, this case offers no significant weight on the future of rights of light.  To do that, it would need to be in the High Court or Court of Appeal.  However, there are some points which might suggest a judicial direction:

1. The potential lack of seeking injunctive proceedings before a development is implemented may mean that the opportunity to receive an injunction afterwards is more limited.  

2. The Judge clearly took reference to Coventry v Lawrence and the Law Commission report within the Judgement.  Both of these documents therefore have provided clear context in going forward with rights of light litigation, even at County Court level.

3. In relation to profit related damages, this was seen as not relevant in this case but the negotiated settlement approach, based upon an uplift to the book-value, was deemed more appropriate. 

4. The future use of the space is still a material consideration.

5.The 50/50 rule remains a simple rule of thumb which may be interpreted flexibly.

The “What if’s”…

There are a few questions which are raised on this judgement, particularly if some of the circumstances were different. For example:

What if this has been a development (for profit) scheme as against a family home?  Would the Judge have potentially granted an injunction more readily or adopted profit related damages as the scheme would have been more focused on the return to a developer? 

What if the impact was not to secondary accommodation but to primary habitable rooms?  Would the Judge have readily given an injunction after the building had been built or was it the fact that whilst there was an actionable injury it was only to less important accommodation.

What if it was possible and potentially likely that a future use in the garage could have become a principle habitable room? Would this have altered the implications to the overall Judgement?

GIA’s Conclusion

Even as an unreported first instance case, we now see the judiciary take account of both Coventry v Lawrence and the Law Commission report.  Whilst the Law Commission report is in no way binding, it is obvious that its review and recommendations do and will continue to influence the judiciary.  The case does provide some potential hope in connection with the basis for damages, but it does not limit the ability to take account of the profits in other circumstances. 

There is a question now of whether the Judgement suggests that the adjoining owner would need to issue proceedings ahead of a development being implemented to be more certain of obtaining a mandatory injunction.  However, this is equally not clear as we are dealing with a domestic dispute where impacts occurred to secondary accommodation. 

The overall message is that it is still possible to create actionable injuries to secondary space and see a fairly large sum of money (against the overall gain to the defendant) be awarded to the Claimant, even in these circumstances.   So, in reality, nothing has really changed……


Gordon Ingram
Senior Partner
DDI: 020 7202 1400

Jerome Webb
Senior Partner
DDI: 020 7202 1414

Mark Kidd
Partner
DDI: 020 7202 1459    


Mark Feighery
Partner
DDI: 020 7202 1430

Stephen Friel
Partner                 
DDI: 020 7401 5353

Anthony Harris
Partner
DDI: 020 7202 1431

 
 

Density and Amenity

A sustainable solution to London's house building crisis

London is in the middle of a housing crisis.  The growing demand for homes in the UK capital far outstrips supply, and means that the city is facing its most serious housing shortage since the 1950s.  In 2013, only 16,800 new homes were built in London, when the number needed (42,000) was more than double that figure.  This crisis is nothing new; we have been building less than half the number of new houses needed for a decade. During the next ten years it is anticipated that the number of people living in London will increase by the equivalent of the population of a city the size of Birmingham.  At this rate, the housing crisis will become even more severe.

Inevitably, this under-supply of new homes has economic consequences.  Recent data from the ONS shows that the average cost of a house in London has edged above £500,000 for the first time.  The cost of a house in relation to the amount a person earns is a well-established measure.  In England, and particularly in London, this ratio has soared to over 8 times earnings and is now touching 9 (see graph).  Rising ratios such as this have resulted in new MMR regulations which are intended to restrict lending if the differential between house prices and earnings becomes too great.

All the main political parties seem to agree that the need to build more homes is paramount.  The government has relaxed planning rules and introduced new incentives in a bid to facilitate this.  The Labour Party has announced plans for a National Infrastructure Commission to ensure the supply of 200,000 new UK homes by 2020.  The London mayor, Boris Johnson, is reportedly working on ‘Further Alterations to the London Plan’, which propose a housing target of 49,000 new homes each year. 

 However, despite the economic incentive of rising prices, the number of new homes being built remains stubbornly low.  The London mayor’s plan to increase threefold the number of homes being built will do little to improve matters, unless all local authorities accept the need for greater density within their boroughs. Planning rules need to reflect greater density as well, or there is a danger that ‘nimbyism’ will prevail and hamper plans for increasing the number of new-build properties.

 The details concerning the number of completions in 2013 illustrate the problem.  According to ONS data, only 20 new homes were built in Kensington & Chelsea in 2013.  Other boroughs also fared poorly, with 80 new homes built in Harrow, 110 in Kingston, 170 in Hammersmith & Fulham and 220 in Richmond.

 In an article in the Evening Standard reporting on these statistics, Richard Tamayo, commercial director of the National Home Building Council, is quoted as saying that too many London town halls are still dominated by ‘nimby’ self-interest, which makes it difficult to secure planning permission.  He says: ‘Let’s get the planning permissions through or we are going to disenfranchise a generation.’

 In order to reverse the decade-long failure to deliver sufficient homes for Londoners, developers need to be encouraged to increase the density of planned developments. Some local authorities have already recognised this, but are struggling to reconcile it with the guidelines they see as necessary for ensuring reasonable standards of living accommodation.  This is because our current need for greater housing density is being considered in the light of historic and inappropriate standards. And while these standards are not wrong, they are simply outdated for the current schemes and locations.

As our cities become more densely populated, one standard that requires greater understanding is the availability of daylight and sunlight to new developments and their neighbours.  In London, most local authorities refer within their UDPs to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) guidelines to determine whether there will be an impact upon neighbouring properties and whether the quality of light within a development is acceptable. In addition, the guidelines consider the effects of overshadowing.

The BRE suggests using a few key tests to determine whether a new development is acceptable for daylight and sunlight.  The summary guidelines suggest that a Virtual Sky Component (VSC) of 27%, or a reduction in VSC of less than 20% should apply to existing buildings. They state that this recommendation should be interpreted flexibly, and that in city centres different target criteria should apply. In practice, consideration is given only to the headline criteria.

But planning officers frequently interpret these ‘guidelines’ rigidly and simplistically, often treating the assessment of a proposed scheme as a tick-box exercise and without giving consideration as to whether the levels of daylight and sunlight are acceptable. This is perhaps unsurprising, as detailed understanding is necessary to appreciate what these criteria mean in a practical sense, particularly in city centres.

For example, while more than 20 per cent loss of sky visibility is deemed material, the guidelines do not differentiate between a postage-stamp-sized window and an entire glazed wall.  If the householder can only see 5 per cent of the sky from his or her window, will the loss of 1 per cent visibility (i.e. a 20 per cent reduction) be material?  The problem does not lie with the BRE guidelines specifically, as they allow flexibility; instead it stems from the fact that the people who need to make decisions in this area are unlikely to be informed as to what may or may not be appropriate.

 

 

Minimum acceptable daylight and sunlight levels need to be reconsidered against the need for increased housing densities. It is not enough to consider it in isolation; it should be taken in context with the overall level of amenity.  The Oxford English Dictionary definition of amenity is 'the pleasantness or attractiveness of a place’. Daylight/sunlight is only one aspect of this pleasantness.  In residential schemes, the following factors can also contribute to amenity:

1.    Orientation
2.    Room Volume and Layouts
3.    Outlook
4.    Window Size
5.    Internal Finishes
6.    External Finishes
7.    Balconies
8.    Access to Open Space
9.    Privacy
10.   Sense of Enclosure 

 

Thoughtfully designed developments that take into account all these aspects should be encouraged and not adversely affected by strict adherence to rigid daylight and sunlight criteria.

Central and local governments need to recognise that greater flexibility is required to promote this approach. The BRE guidelines were originally published in 1991 and last revised in 2011; in the interim, there have been significant advances in the technical analysis and simulation of daylight.  Software such as Radiance, developed by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, is widely regarded as the most accurate tool available for daylighting and artificial lighting analysis and simulation.  But while tools such as this produce accurate simulations of proposed developments, we still rely on rigid and simplistic guidelines such as the VSC criteria.

Either a supplementary BRE guide needs to be written specifically for city centres or the evolving London Plan needs to incorporate this approach, to support the advanced technical analysis now available and to demonstrate to local authorities the many ways in which amenity can be improved. While this would invite developers to undertake more detailed studies to show a commitment to creating better environments, it will also permit denser building schemes that have been rigorously tested to optimise or ameliorate amenity. This will then lead to more intelligent designs and better environments.

The clear message to developers is that in order to increase residential development beyond current guidelines, proposals which demonstrate good design and ameliorate amenity are most likely to be successful. 

Meridian Gate planning consent

Make Architects proposal for a 400 unit residential tower in Marsh Wall received planning consent this week. The 53 storey scheme, for Meridian Property Holdings, is part of the wider plan for the redevelopment of Marsh Wall East. GIA advised on daylight & sunlight, solar glare, and shading. 

Redevelopment of Moxon Street car park

Production of Visuals by Naniby Studio. 

Westminster planning committee last night approved the redevelopment of Moxon Street car park. The proposal for the site, which has been a surface car park since 1966, is for a mixed used redevelopment providing 11 retail & restaurant units, a health club, car park and residential apartments. Simon Bowden Architects designed the scheme for Ridgeford Developments. GIA advised on daylight and sunlight.

Derwent’s Wedge House scheme gains planning permission

Congratulations to Derwent London on gaining planning permission for a new 15-storey hotel close to Blackfriars Bridge in south London.

The 192-room hotel, which will be operated by The Hoxton, is the focal point of the mixed-use development of Wedge House at 40 Blackfriars Road, London SE1.

The 110,000 sq ft scheme, designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands also includes 42,000 sq ft of office and is due to complete in 2018. 

GIA advised on rights of light, daylight & sunlight and overshadowing. News of this scheme also received coverage in Construction Enquirer.

Elizabeth House gets go ahead from Lambeth Council

Lambeth council has given the go ahead for the redevelopment of Elizabeth House in York Road, near London’s Waterloo Station. This follows a failed legal challenge to the scheme.

The next stage means the redevelopment will now be referred to the mayor of London and the secretary of state for approval.

London & Regional Properties in partnership with Chelsfield Partners acquiried this 60s block in in 2010. GIA have advised on daylight and sunlight matters.