Developers are warned not to be over-hasty following a surprise court decision. It involved a claim for loss of light in which the developer built a building, presumably confident that the court would award the owner of the building whose light was taken a monetary sum in compensation.
Surprisingly, however, an injunction was granted requiring the developer to demolish the top two stories of the office block it had built and partially let.
Normally, an injunction will only be granted where:
the injury to the rights of the adjoining property is not small;
the value of the injury to the rights is difficult to estimate in money or compensate for by the payment of money; and
the granting of an injunction would not be oppressive.
The completion of the construction and letting by the developer proved to be a dangerous strategy, because the court considered that the criteria for granting injunctive relief were met. Instead of ordering the developer to pay a sum in compensation, the court ordered the demolition of the top two floors of the building, which the developer estimated would cost between £1 million and £2.5 million. The developer had budgeted £200,000 for settling the ‘loss of light’ claim.
There are signs that the courts are takign astronger line on anything in which an environmental issue is at stake.
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