Court Overturns Planning over ‘Misleading’ loss of light advice

A High Court judge has overturned planning consent after she concluded that councillors were ‘significantly misled’ by a report that was ‘flawed by misapplication of the BRE methodology’

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham had allowed the proposed Hoxton hotel development, on Shepherds Bush Green.

Justine Thornton QC quashed permission after hearing the case of local resident Sabine Guerry. Ms Guerry successfully argued that the daylight effects of the new building on her property and her neighbours’ properties had not been properly assessed. She said the developer’s assessment had misapplied the methodology in the Building Research Establishment (BRE)’s ‘Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A Guide to Good Practice’.

The daylight report, produced by GIA, applied the BRE methodology ‘sequentially’, only testing daylight distribution (NSL) in a room if windows serving the room failed to meet the VSC criteria. In Justine Thornton’s judgement this approach is ‘flawed by misapplication of the BRE methodology’. As a consequence councilors were given ‘scant’ information on NSL compliance.  The judge found the BRE guide to be ‘clear that both the total amount of daylight and the distribution of light within a building are important’.

Due to the ‘misleading nature’ of the report the decision to grant planning permission was found to be  unlawful and it was quashed.

Francis Taylor Building Chambers who acted for the Claimant said this case follows another recent decision where a planning permission was quashed on the basis of misapplication of the BRE methodology (R (Rainbird) v London Borough of Tower Hamlets).

“These decisions serve as a salutary lesson to developers that technical reports need to apply methodologies comprehensively and selective presentation of the results can ultimately lead to decision-makes being ‘significantly misled’,” it said.

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