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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 20/06/2006
New Street Lighting in Surrey



APPENDIX C
Waverley Borough Council

Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee
20TH jUNE 2006
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Title:
NEW STREET LIGHTING IN SURREY
[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and purpose:

The purpose of the report is to explain the new street lighting scheme proposed by the County Council for the whole of Surrey and to express concerns about the project.

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Environmental implications:

The new street lights will be of a design to reduce glare and will be sympathetic to the environment from the technical lighting aspect.

Social / community implications:

The new lighting will be a standard design and will not reflect the character of individual and historic areas.

E-Government implications:

There are no E-government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

There may be legal implications where the County Council wishes to remove existing heritage lighting that has been funded by the Borough Council.
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Background

1. Surrey County Council (SCC) is proposing to replace approximately 85% of the public street lighting across the County through a 25 year Private Finance Initiative contract. (PFI) The contract, funded partly by the Department for Transport PFI Credits, includes the maintenance of these assets until 2031.

The Implications

2. There are implications for District and Town/Parish Councils in that:-

a. The replacement programme will only fund standard utilitarian columns selected by SCC for the entire project. If District and Parish Councils wish to have heritage style columns and/or heads in any part of their areas, they will be required to fund the additional cost of supply, installation and on-going maintenance. The “extra-over” costs are estimated at current values of between 650 and 1,250 per light dependent upon height and style.

b. SCC is investigating the revenue-earning opportunities of mounting telecommunications equipment and advertising on street lighting columns where it can be provided “without a negative impact on the particular environment”. c. There may be many areas within Districts where the existing original or reproduction, heritage style street furniture make a fundamental contribution to the particular street-scene and where the utilitarian column would be out of context.

d. SCC is “exploring” ways in which “those Districts that approve advertising on street furniture” are allocated the funds generated thereby over the first three years of that advertising, to support the installation of heritage/architectural columns. Those Districts that do not approve advertising on street lighting columns will bear the greatest burden of funding of non-standard installations.

e. The impact of the new lighting on conservation areas

f. There is considerable officer concern over the prospect of standard lighting being imposed on the Borough’s Conservation Areas, unless the cost of the balance between the standard light and “heritage” lighting is paid. The question is should the County be funding the proper standard of heritage lighting for historic areas? g. Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Local Planning Authorities shall “designate areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance the Conservation Areas”. SCC was itself responsible for many designations in the County before re-organisation in 1974. Over half of the Waverley Conservation Areas were County designations, including Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and Cranleigh. Therefore, the County itself has safeguarded many such historic areas of the Borough, but is now proposing a lower standard of lighting that will be contrary to the preservation and enhancement of these areas, unless the Districts pay the difference between the standard and the heritage lighting.

h. SCC’s own published Manual of Policies and Standards for Highways (MaPS), prepared in consultation with a Working Group of County Council Members, and approved by the Group as a Code of Good Practice in Highway Management states:

i. Section 41 - Highway Materials in Conservation Areas;

j. It is the policy of the County Council that materials and street furniture in highways within Conservation Areas shall be sympathetic to such areas, while complying with all required serviceability and safety standards.”

k. SCC reinforced its commitment to this policy by the setting up of the HIMCAR (Highway Materials in Conservation Areas) Working Group which promoted the use of appropriate materials in these areas. The Group was cross-tier (Surrey CC/Districts) and cross-functional (Planning and Technical Officers) and included a representative from the Surrey Chief Technical Officers Association. l. The Surrey Conservation Officers’ Group has recognised the serious implications of the proposal for Conservation Areas and has expressed its deep concern.

m. Where heritage lighting has already been established, such as in Haslemere, and needs to be replaced, it should be on a like for like basis. It is not acceptable to take a retrograde step and lose existing heritage lighting which has itself been installed by or supported by the County Council. The County Council should be prepared to install an appropriate heritage light in Conservation Areas because, as a responsible Highway Authority, it should recognise the importance of preserving and enhancing Conservation Areas under the 1990 Act.

The key issues

a) The need to modernise the stock of street lighting in the County is supported. Effective lighting is required to maintain safety for pedestrians and highway users. Lighting is important to the vitality and viability of town and district centres. Lighting needs to meet new energy efficiency standards. b) Street lighting is an important part of the street scene and its design needs to reflect this.

c) Only those designs of an appropriate quality should be used in special areas such as Conservation Areas.

d) The current proposed ‘excess cost’ for lights in Conservation Areas is not only unacceptable on a unit cost basis but the likely total replacement sum for columns in Conservation Areas in each District would be unaffordable.

e) Just passing on the ‘excess’ cost to District Councils is unacceptable. Ultimately the same Council tax payer has to foot the bill. Experience elsewhere suggests that costs can be reduced and better contained if they are administered as an integral part of one contract. f) Turning lighting columns into advertising columns is not considered acceptable in Surrey’s historic towns and villages. g) At present, it is not likely that many residents or interest groups know of the proposal. Their reaction can be safely predicted. In addition they would look to local government in Surrey to work together to bring about an acceptable solution. h) Surrey County Council should be requested not to progress the contract until these important matters are resolved.

Conclusion

3. The Surrey Planning Officers Association and the Surrey Chief Technical Officers Association have expressed considerable concern on these proposals and a co-ordinated objection was directed to SCC on this matter. This was passed to the Surrey Chief Executives (whose views are to be confirmed.)

4. The lighting proposals by the County Council are not acceptable and there needs to be a constructive dialogue between the Districts and the County Council.


Recommendation

It is recommended to the Executive that Surrey County Council be advised that the PFI lighting scheme is not regarded as acceptable as it stands, for the reasons given in this report, and that a revision of the scheme is sought.
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Background Papers (DPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICERS:

Name: Geraldine Molony Telephone: 01483 523296
Robin Ellks Telephone: 01483 523411
E-mail: rellks@waverley.gov.uk


G/Bureau/Comms/O&S3/2006-7/115.doc