Sun is about to set on Square Mile’s consultation for new planning guidance

City of London skyline

Source: City of London Corporation

Architects and other built-environment professionals have just a few more days to respond to the City of London’s proposals for beefed up planning policies to cover the lighting of new developments and construction sites in the Square Mile.

The corporation’s consultation on its draft Lighting Supplementary Planning Document, which aims to reduce light pollution, cut back on unnecessary energy use and improve safety, closes on Friday this week.

The proposals follow the adoption of the Light & Darkness in the City strategy in 2018 and would require development teams to produce a “high-level lighting strategy” early in the design process for discussion in pre-application meetings.

At the application stage, City of London planners would require a “lighting concept” document setting out finer details, including a “technical lighting design” that would be secured through conditions.

The draft Lighting SPD proposes allocating new developments in the Square Mile into “brightness zones”, with curfew times during which all external lighting other than that required for safety or crime prevention reasons should be switched off or dimmed.

Shravan Joshi

Shravan Joshi,

Owners of new developments would be required to consider lighting levels and to turn off or dim their lights earlier if their building is in a sensitive area, such as a residential area or special heritage area.

The 33-page draft guidance document also has implications for temporary lighting in the City, and particularly lighting related to construction sites.

It calls for exterior site lighting to be “designed, developed, specified, procured, delivered, controlled and maintained to reduce unwanted and unnecessary environmental impacts as far as it is reasonably possible”.

The document says that with professional design, the goals can be achieved without compromising health and safety and security. It recommends that all exterior construction-site lighting should be subject to agreed curfew times, after which it should be shut down or dimmed to 10% of its normal operating level.

Shravan Joshi, who chairs the City of London’s Planning and Transportation Committee, said the Square Mile’s combination of business districts, busy transportation hubs, historic buildings and residential neighbourhoods made it a “unique” place.

“The strategy laid out in this document is aimed at ensuring an intelligent, sensitive approach to lighting which ensures the City is safe and accessible, while protecting its historic character and the amenity of our residents,” he said.

“We would really welcome the views of people who live, work in or visit the City, which will help us to shape how we enshrine responsible lighting in planning process and to meet our ambitious climate targets.”

The City said the new SPD would contribute to its target of achieving carbon net zero for the Square Mile as a whole by 2040.

It added that businesses and building owners and would also be encouraged to sign up to a new voluntary “considerate lighting charter”, to show their commitment to improving lighting in the City.

The consultation on the proposals closes at 5pm on 17 February.