Daylight and sunlight surveys are crucial assessments conducted as part of planning applications in England. These surveys evaluate the impact of a proposed development on the availability of natural light, both indoors and in the surrounding areas. This article aims to explore the concept of daylight and sunlight surveys and their relevance in the planning process, highlighting their importance for ensuring healthy living environments and compliance with planning regulations.
Daylight and sunlight surveys involve measuring and analysing the amount of natural light that will reach existing and proposed buildings, as well as neighbouring properties and public spaces. The surveys assess factors such as sunlight penetration, overshadowing, and potential loss of light due to a new development.
Daylight and sunlight surveys are integral to the planning process as they help evaluate the impact of a development on the quality of light within and around the site. They ensure that new buildings do not unreasonably reduce natural light levels for existing buildings and outdoor spaces, promoting healthy and sustainable living environments.
Daylight and sunlight surveys are conducted to assess compliance with planning policies and guidelines, such as the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) guidance and the London Plan. These policies set standards for acceptable levels of daylight and sunlight provision to protect the well-being of occupants and minimize potential negative effects on the surrounding environment.
a. Sunlight Availability: The surveys analyse the duration and intensity of sunlight that existing and proposed buildings receive throughout the year. This assessment helps identify potential overshadowing issues and ensures an adequate level of sunlight for occupant well-being and solar energy generation.
b. Daylight Factor: The daylight factor measures the amount of natural light available inside a building. It assesses the distribution and quality of daylight by considering factors such as window size, orientation, and external obstructions. Adequate daylight levels contribute to visual comfort, energy efficiency, and occupant satisfaction.
c. Rights to Light: Daylight and sunlight surveys consider the potential impact on neighbouring properties, ensuring that any new development does not infringe upon established rights to light. These rights protect the ability of existing properties to receive sufficient natural light.
Daylight and sunlight surveys are typically conducted using computer modelling software that simulates sunlight and daylight conditions throughout the year. 3D models of the proposed development, existing buildings, and surrounding topography are created to assess the impact on light levels. Measurements are taken at specific points to calculate parameters such as the daylight factor and sunlight hours.
The results of daylight and sunlight surveys inform the design and layout of a proposed development. They help identify potential issues, such as overshadowing neighbouring properties, reduction of natural light in existing buildings, or lack of daylight within the new development. Mitigation measures can be proposed, such as adjusting building heights or orientations, incorporating lightwells, or using reflective surfaces to enhance daylight distribution.
Daylight and sunlight surveys aim to create healthier and more sustainable living environments. Adequate natural light improves the quality of indoor spaces, enhances occupant well-being, and reduces the reliance on artificial lighting during the day. Furthermore, access to sunlight promotes the growth of vegetation, which contributes to greener and more aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
Engaging with planning authorities is essential when conducting daylight and sunlight surveys. Local planning departments may have specific guidelines and requirements for these surveys, ensuring consistency and compliance with local planning policies. Collaboration with the authorities helps streamline the planning process and ensures that the proposed development meets the necessary standards.
Daylight and sunlight surveys play a crucial role in planning applications in the UK, ensuring compliance with planning policies, and creating healthier and more sustainable living environments. These surveys assess the impact of a proposed development on natural light levels for existing buildings and outdoor spaces, informing the design and layout of new developments. By prioritizing access to natural light, developers can create spaces that promote occupant well-being, energy efficiency, and harmonious integration into the surrounding environment.