Hotel near Preston apologises after car park floodlights ‘lit up homes like a football pitch’
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Householders whose properties lie in the shadow of the Holiday Inn Express Preston (South) complained when dazzlingly bright light started shining directly into their homes after new fittings were attached to existing columns back in February.
A meeting of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee heard that the new LED bulbs were designed to improve safety for guests at the Walton Summit hotel, but were four times brighter than usual standards – and planning permission had not been granted for them before the change was made.
That emerged after the occupiers of the handful of dwellings on Reedfield Place – the same road as the hotel – raised their concerns, initially with the venue and the group that owns it, before later approaching their local councillor. The majority of the lighting heads were then repositioned or switched off altogether.
A retrospective planning application was submitted to the local authority, which requested that a lighting impact assessment was carried out. Its conclusion was that the lighting installed in February was “inappropriate” – resulting in the car park being “over-lit”, committee members heard.
The hotel subsequently made a fresh proposal for an entirely new lighting set-up in order to rectify the situation, which councillors have now approved.
Brian Needham, who has lived alongside the hotel for 38 years without “any problems”, told the committee that his and his neighbours’ homes – and the car park itself – were “like being on a football pitch”.
He added that a condition should be imposed on the replacement lighting that meant it “cannot be positioned towards us or pointed up at us”.
“We do not want another 10 month[s] of light pollution [of] all our properties,” Mr. Needham said.
Bamber Bridge East ward councillor Clare Hunter said that she had worked at a football club and yet the hotel car park’s floodlights were “the brightest…I have ever seen in my life”.
Simon Sharp, the agent for the new application, offered an apology on behalf of the hotel to Mr. Needham and his neighbours.
“The hotel does acknowledge that the…lighting scheme put in place was not appropriate – they did follow the advice of a specialist contractor…but clearly no pre-emptive modelling was done,” Mr. Sharp explained.
However, he said that there was a good reason behind the upgrade.
“Although [the hotel] makes clear to its guests that vehicles are parked at the risk of owners, it is not acceptable for guests or staff to feel a personal risk when they’re moving through the car park…particularly at night.
“The situation that existed until February this year was inadequate in that regard. Guests of the hotel had made their feelings known to the management about the quality of the car park environment,” Mr. Sharp said.
South Ribble’s planning manager, Catherine Thomas, said that the new lighting that the committee was being asked to approve prevented “light spill” beyond the area that it was intended to illuminate – and so the heads would not require adjustment.
Cllr Hunter – along with committee member Matthew Farnworth – criticised the use of retrospective applications.
“The planning process is there for a reason,” Cllr Farnworth said.
The Lancashire Post approached Holiday Inn Express Preston (South) for further comment.