Major restrictions around street lighting on new developments, which will effectively remove highway lighting, are to be brought in by Lincolnshire County Council.
The authority’s Highways and Transport Committee on Monday examined changes to its street lighting policy which will say that new development roads “will not be lit for highway purposes”.
However, developers will be given an option to pay the council a commuted sum to adopt “non-highway lighting” for footway or placemaking initiatives such as aesthetic or safety purposes.
The report said there was an “increasing momentum amongst developers for new developments to be lit not for highway purposes… but for place-making or foot-way-only purposes, where the lighting does not have to meet highway standards”.
Council officer John Monk told councillors developers were moving away from traditional lighting to be more about “creating the right atmosphere” and “more of a feeling of place”.
Since 2016, LCC has been making attempts to reduce the number of street-lights that are switched on overnight, with many going to part-night systems or being replaced by LED lighting, in a bid to save money.
Council bosses estimate they have so far made a saving of £2.58million a year with energy consumption reducing from 22.9million KwH in 2015/16 to 8.6million KwH in 2021/22.
LCC is facing an increase in energy costs of 67% in October this year.
Officers said the latest change maintained the council’s priorities to minimise its contribution to carbon emissions as well as placing the responsibility for non-highway public lighting on other authorities.
“Although it would continue to be a step change from the current expectation that all new developments are lit to highway standards, by the offer to adopt non-highway lighting for a commuted sum, it is likely that some lighting will be provided on most developments, and in a manner which fits with the current place-making agenda,” said their report.
Public speaker David Matthews, a design engineer and consultant of nearly 40 years, told councillors however, it was “the worst design I’ve ever seen”.
“The first requirement of any design is that it’s safe, in the case of this one the safest design is the one it replaces – it’s obviously not,” he told members.
He warned of previous Health and Safety Executive Investigations leading to fines and even prison sentences as a result of someone getting hurt or “even worse, killed.”
He urged the council instead to switch lights back on, but replaced with LEDs which he said would save the council money on electricity and maintenance itself.
Mr Monk, however, said the council had addressed Mr Matthews’ concerns during previous reviews both locally and across the country.
“If HSE had their concerns they would be writing to us,” he said.
He added that the council would “love” to switch all lights to LED, but that there was “simply a case of affordability”.
Councillors had some concerns over the changes, particularly over the safety of residents and employees who walked to work during the night.
Labour Councillor Kevin Clarke said street lighting was “always in the top three” of his residents’ concerns. He said they wanted them switched on and didn’t support the original policy or any amendments.
South Holland Independent Robert Gibson said a lot of residents in his area were “going to and from work at all hours of the days”.
He added: “A lot of people are walking down the streets at night clutching alarms and keys and I’m not comfortable with this policy that we’re going to have no lights.”
The council continues to argue that the switching off of lights has not led to an increase in crime or anti-social behaviour.
Mr Monk told councillors Lincolnshire was “one of the safest areas in the country” adding that previus data had shown “no demonstrable link” to show an impact on crime.
Conservative Councillor Mike Brookes told councillors he felt the authority had done everything by the book.
“We’ve been through all the right processes and everything and considered things really thoroughly,” he said.
“I know it’d be very nice to have the lights on all night, but is is it absolutely necessary when most people are in bed asleep?”
The policy will now go before the executive committee for a final decision.