City planning officer Pearl Figueira talked about the next step, a proposed planning advice note for lighting, ‘an exciting and important issue in the City’. ‘Lighting is a crucial tool for the City to support the night-time economy and its role as a world business centre, and to the culture mile’, she said.
Speirs Major partner Mark Major said his firm had been looking at the ‘layers’ of lighting that exist in the City, concerned with not just the quantity, but the quality, with darkness accorded as much importance as the light. The work extended to looking at the colour temperature across the Square Mile, levels of illuminance and scale of equipment, producing a series of character studies. ‘The starting point for the whole planning advice note is to take a much more sustainable stance towards lighting design’, he said. ‘What we are looking for is to benefit from the social uses of light, and the economic uses of light. It’s been very interesting in the last year understanding quite how critical the night-time economy is to all areas, not just in the City of London’. That, he added, will be a fundamentally important point as we come into recovery, but will need to be balanced with environmental impacts, and lighting should be brought earlier into the planning process, with planning applications required to acknowledge the ‘lit context’.
Other points made at the webinar referred to the importance of light as a safety feature, especially in the aftermath of the Sarah Everard tragedy, light as a ‘precious commodity’, technology allowing city areas and streets to be dimmed or brightened as appropriate, visual brightness of buildings and light spill, maintaining the difference between day and night, and the importance of light on wildlife. Arup’s Florence Lam told the audience about her firm’s research work on town centres and their role in the recovery of local and national economies, proposing that local authorities prepare a ‘business case for lighting’. Finally Lifschutz Davidson director Alex Lifschutz – who has worked on the Illuminated River project – had a proposal to help reduce light pollution in the name of the climate crisis. ‘Personally, I would equip every planning officer with a light meter and some kind of tax app, and just tax people for the light they put out’.
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