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Hove school ordered to switch off its playing field lights after planning breach

This week, I read with great interest an article published on The Argus’ website (article published: 16 October 2012 by Tim Ridgway) – the local newspaper for Brighton and Hove City – with respect to the new £900,000 all-weather sports pitches at Blatchington Mill School in Nevill Close, Hove.  Around two weeks ago, I was playing football at Nevill Recreational Ground adjacent to the new development and, I must admit, it is impressive.  As a community facility and in an era where School’s are selling off their playing fields for new housing or supermarkets or the like, it is refreshing that this development has got through the planning system.

However, following complaints from neighbours about the new floodlighting scheme breaching planning laws and streaming into their homes, the luminaires are having to be switched off by 6:15pm every day.

According to the article, the lighting scheme utilises 12 Nr floodlights, each one mounted approximately 60ft – 20 metres! – above finished floor level, spaced around the sports pitches.

The site is reported as being approximately 60 metres away from about 40 properties in Nevill Avenue and Holmes Avenue.

Planning permission for the development was granted by the local authority back in August 2011, where around 360 people supported the plan and around 120 people opposed it.

Surely, in this modern age in which engineers have license to produce near-perfect lighting simulations of proposed schemes, etc., how has this been allowed to happen?  Is it a case of the initial design data and calculations being wrong?  Has the installation contractor used the wrong luminaires?  Were they meant to utilise 70W-rated lamps but, for some reason, the 150W-rated variant has been employed?  Has anyone checked the completed installation Lux levels against the approved design?  If not, why not?  Perhaps the design was approved, it’s been installed correctly and, as such, blame now lies with the local authority for approving a scheme that was never viable?  Or, is it just a case of sour grapes with local residents who originally opposed the development?  If so, there might not be a problem with the current lighting scheme at all!

So what could be done to rectify the matter so that the public do not miss out on use of this new community sports facility?

One particular comment on the article offers the resolution of altering the angle of the luminaires and having “a few baffles installed”.  This shouldn’t be discredited but I’m not so sure it’s going to provide a total solution to the problem.  Personally, the scheme needs to be tested and compared against the approved design.  If a new design needs to be considered to offer a permanent solution, then so be it.  After the sporting high our Country is experiencing on the back of the Olympics, Paralympics, etc., this summer, let’s just hope that the matter is dealt with swiftly, so that the development can prosper in the local community.  Although, with 1 in 4 people against it, will it ever be given chance to succeed?

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