East Herts Council set to approve controversial Northgate End multi-storey car park lighting
Complaints about controversial proposed lighting for Bishop's Stortford's new multi-storey car park are set to be snuffed out.
Members of planning authority East Herts Council's development management committee are being recommended at their meeting on Wednesday September 8 to approve plans for four 5.75m (18ft 10in) high columns on the fifth floor of the development at Northgate End.
The £16m council car park is under construction. If it had already been completed, East Herts would not require planning permission for the lighting posts. The council says it has submitted a planning application to itself to enable conditions to be imposed.
The height of the columns has been strongly criticised by the town council, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation and residents.
They include householders in neighbouring Yew Tree Place who went to court to try to overturn planning permission for the whole scheme – the 546-space multi-storey plus open-air ground-level parking for 27 cars and a four-storey building with commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats arranged over the upper three levels.
Liberal Democrat councillors have also lined up against the lighting. East Herts member Mione Goldspink said: "The lighting would be visible from a wide area around the car park and have a detrimental effect on people and on the conservation area. I am also worried about the possibility of anti-social behaviour which could take place on the top deck of the car park after dark."
District and town councillor Richard Townsend said: "The top floor should be closed 'out of hours', which would combat anti-social behaviour and reduce lighting cost when out of use. Essentially this inconsiderate development is excessive and not in keeping with the locality and conservation restrictions."
County and town councillor Calvin Horner agreed and said: "Given the location of the car park at the lowest point of the valley, despite its height, the lights will be visible from properties and intrusive for residents of properties that overlook the car park."
One resident described the whole development as a "monstrous, expensive impingement on the conservation area and local residents".
The car park is the keystone of East Herts Council's wider plans to create a cultural quarter – with a cinema-led arts centre, homes, shops, restaurants and offices – on The Causeway called Old River Lane.
A report to the development management committee meeting tells members local authorities are "permitted to erect lamp standards in connection with any public service administered by them without planning permission".
The lighting columns will be positioned along the central spine of the top floor, which the council maintains will prevent "light spillage".
Conditions to be imposed include installation of a photocell detector and time-clock programmed to operate from dusk to dawn, preventing the lights from operating after 11pm and before 7am.