New National Design Guidance – Daylight, Sunlight and Overshadowing

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has released an updated version of the National Design Guide. The document was first issued to ensure that planning and development processes in the UK created high quality buildings and places. The focus of the updated guidance is to reinforce the fundamentals of good design, in that proposals should be fit for purpose, durable and bring delight.

Whilst the guide focuses on design aspects, i.e. how a development should look, it also contains reinforcement of the BRE Daylight and Sunlight Guide in terms of a proposal’s impact on neighbouring properties, as well as meeting the minimum requirements for internal levels of daylight and sunlight.

One such inclusion regards proposals for tall buildings and their environmental impact on daylight, sunlight and overshadowing. The guide suggests that these issues need to be resolved satisfactorily in relation to the context and local character (section 70). This is specific to proposals that are significantly larger than the surrounding buildings. Developers should therefore be mindful of proposals for tall buildings/larger massing in low rise/underdeveloped areas, and that a daylight and sunlight report could be necessary to support planning applications.

Furthermore, when proposing/designing new residential units in high density areas, the focus should be on providing a good standard and quality of internal space for future occupants, which should include levels of light (section 126). The BRE guide currently provides minimum targets for levels of daylight within new schemes which local authorities can already request be provided by the applicant. We see this continuing in the future, especially with the current trend of proposals to convert commercial buildings in urban areas to residential accommodation, where light is already somewhat restricted.

Overall, not much has changed for developers following the publication of the new National Design Guidance, but the focus and importance of daylight and sunlight has been reinforced. Throughout the design and planning processes, the impact on neighbouring properties’ daylight and sunlight, as well as the internal levels in new units, should be considered, along with issues of local character and identity.

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