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Shadow studies can be required by Local Council Planners before Development Approval is granted

New buildings should not impact the amenity of the existing neighbours. Sunlight access therefore is an issue that PLANNING AUTHORITIES take seriously
Shadow studies are sometimes required by Council.  This is to prove that proposed development is within these guidelines.
Click on this link for an example.  This was an extension to an existing Warehouse that could not get PLANNING APPROVAL until proven that it would not over-shaddow an adjacent house.  I prepared a 3d model of the proposed building site and the adjacent property using SKETCHUP.  Google Earth was used to Geospatially locate the building so an accurate shadow map could be drawn.
Three design options for the Warehouse were given to Council to consider, each showing how they would impact the existing building in Winter (when the Shadowing would be greatest). Council then chose a prefered design and subsequently issued Planning Approval.
        Under Construction - Front elevation                        Under Construction- Roof framing                                       Original Sketch
Note the existing house to the left. The solar collector on the roof and the two windows under needed to recieve sun in mid Winter. The Warehouse is on the Northern side of the house. To achieve a reasonable solar access outcome for the house the warehouse was reduced in size leaving a 3 meter zone  between it and the boundary.
Note the raking angle formed by the new roof purlins to the left of the photo. By sculpting the roof it was possible to achieve a better solar access for the property next door. The parapet wall at the front hides much of what the roof is doing behind. 
The existing left hand roller door will be lowered in order to acomodate the new roof. The solar study was used to calculate the exact extent of roof that needed to be removed from the original design  in order to get Planning compliance.
This original sketch shows the new Warehouse Extension was originally to be from boundary to boundary, matching the width of the existing building. This design was prefered by the Client, but vetoed by Council as it would have created shaddows on the existing residence next door.  Although the suburb was zoned for Commercial use any existing use is to be protected.
Several re-design options were drawn up, each showing how they impacted the adjacent residence