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Ancient Lights and Downtown Development

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2007, at 03:29PM

The always fascinating BLDGBLOG has an article today about the UK concept of "ancient lights".

"Ancient lights" is a colloquialism for the "right to light," guaranteed under English law, whereby windows that have seen twenty years' worth of "uninterrupted" daylight cannot be blocked by the construction of new buildings.

Creating easements for light is an odd concept, but it's an interesting read in light of the current disagreement between certain residents of Flower Street Lofts and the developers of 1133 Hope. If Downtown were in the UK this would seem to be a prime candidate for an "ancient light" dispute.

That said, BLDGBLOG notes that in the UK a property owner can prevent a property from getting this "right to light" by serving notice of theoretical plans to construct a taller structure. Certainly owners at Flower Street should have been aware that their neighboring parking lot was prime ground for future development.

Bottom line: Don't expect your Downtown view to always stay the same. Learn to love the structures rising around you. They don't block views: they become a piece of them.

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