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As featured in Estates Gazette, below is Rights of Light expert Ian McKenna’s thoughts on an article about a recent appeal on a major residential scheme in Whitechapel.

The daylight article titled ‘Daylight decision heralds higher density’, printed 6 July 2018, discussed a recent appeal on a major residential scheme in Whitechapel. However, the article views the precedent only as of benefit to developers. With modern daylight design and a desperate housing crisis, is this not a win for all?

We are currently working on another major project in Tower Hamlets, with a client who had anticipated a potential recommendation for refusal on a crucial development, which would bring much needed accommodation and employment to the area. However, with this latest decision, we can see that mentalities around construction in high-density areas are beginning to change. Revisions to the constraints imposed by the Building Research Establishment on this matter are welcomed and considered overdue by many. As councils begin to accept that an increase in building density is an expected factor for residents of ultra-urban areas, we will hopefully see that expensive and drawn-out appeal processes are avoided by positive planning application outcomes.

Avoiding appeals is of mutual benefit to developers and councils alike. The demands of the boroughs are met as new residential and commercial assets are erected more efficiently and councils can alleviate the resources spent on drawn-out project reviews, for use in other, more productive areas.

Modern light analysis techniques enable more detailed studies to be undertaken which can support increased height and density when used in conjunction with façade design to harness reflected light. With these changes in capability, we encourage a culture of improved natural light design in future projects. Developers see a real opportunity for application success where they can justify their height and density parameters through beneficial factors such as reflected light – which can be used to compensate for the loss of direct daylight and sunlight. We are seeing more and more concern being raised about glare from modern buildings and its potential effect on nearby transport infrastructure. With the right design, that same reflected light could help to illuminate spaces in and around the high density areas in our cities.

An increased chance of approval supported by a more practical design-led approach will help to attract and encourage property development in areas where demand is highest. Thus, helping in some degree to solve the residential and commercial property imbalances that we currently possess in the Capital.