London mayor under fire for ignoring lighting

THE MAYOR of London Sadiq Khan has come under fire for ignoring the importance of lighting in his blueprint for the future of the city.

The draft London Plan – which sets out the strategy and policies for the capital’s growth over the next 25 years – contains only six mentions of lighting in its 526 pages.

These address security, sports lighting and light pollution – and not its potential  to enhance the urban environment at night.

‘London desperately needs a coherent approach to lighting that enshrines the best of current guidance and legislation but that also acknowledges the primacy of the people who use, inhabit and encounter the city at night,’ the lighting director of top London architectural practice BDP, Mark Ridler, has written in an open letter to Khan.

'For precisely half the year London is perceived, used and experienced at night,' says Ridler, above. 'Lighting facilitates the night time economy but also the lives of those who work and travel at night supporting the wider economy'. Picture: BDP

‘It should draw upon current exemplar projects and extend this deployment to the places where ordinary Londoners live. This way excellence will not only be available to prestigious well-funded projects but also to the places where all of us live, irrespective of age, race, income, and disability, and to the journeys and spaces that connect us.

‘Just as London is growing inexorably, it is fast becoming a 24 hour society. For precisely half the year London is perceived, used and experienced at night. Lighting facilitates the night time economy but also the lives of those who work and travel at night supporting the wider economy.

‘So how we light the city is increasingly important for all those planning, managing, designing and constructing the future city. The current policies, where they exist, are too fragmented by borough and too concerned with vehicles and their conflict with pedestrians’.

Ridler has identified three major drivers for change in London: sustainability, driverless vehicles and Smart Cities.

‘There’s an imperative to reduce emissions whilst maintaining growth. Energy efficient lighting is key, but it should also consider the role of darkness. There’s growing evidence that humans need recourse to darkness for health. Our ecology needs darkness. Our skies need darkness.

‘Just as the city has green lungs, it also needs dark lungs. Light is a precious resource that requires intelligent design ensuring deployment in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time’.

On driverless vehicles, Ridler believes the advent of the technology will revolutionise the design of cities and the way they are lit. ‘Almost all of the codes that drive the engineering of urban light are written to best avoid conflict between vehicles and people. As vehicles cease to be guided by people, they will rely less on visible light to sense and avoid people.


BDP's lighting design at Thomas More Square in London, above. ‘Just as the city has green lungs, it also needs dark lungs,' says Ridler. 'Light is a precious resource that requires intelligent design ensuring deployment in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time’.


‘The imperative will change to facilitate human activity, how people perceive and feel about their environment and crucially how they interact with each other. This is major opportunity to create night spaces of social cohesion.

There is much talk of the Internet of Things but the consensus of implementation is only slowly emerging. In its essence, it is fixed and mobile assets, such as people as vehicles, talking and sharing.

‘For an exponential technology there is no possibility to predict the future use, but we need to establish a sensor and data infrastructure that allows the creativity of our city to evolve and produce the promised benefits. Just as sewers, rail and roads have previously facilitated growth, data infrastructure is key to good’ growth in our century.

‘Streetlights are significant because of their ubiquity, and electrification but all councils are struggling to solve challenges of investment and monetisation. The Mayoral office is ideally placed to create partnerships and enable solutions.

‘Lighting is too important to be consigned to the margins of planning policy. I urge those with influence in policy making to move this essential element of our city life and health further up the agenda’.



Main image: Shutterstock. Panel image courtesy Sadiq Khan MP. Remaining pics: BDP



Comments 4

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Lighting does not stop crime. This is not about crime. Who needs crime when the lights will kill you? You know and the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. All of it. Every living thing on this planet will be affected by these atrocious LED Streetlights. This is all happening too swiftly without time to see what these hideous, glaring, irritating, ugly lights will do to us and the planet, not to mention they will make the whole world look like a soulless parking lot. Thank you Mayor Kahn for being one of the first Municipal Leaders in the world to speak wisely about these lights. Our Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago is also listening to experts in this matter and we are hoping he will follow suit. I am proud of your Leadership!

Is the economy and wealth really that more important that human health and well-being? Does quality of life not mean anything? It is about balance. We must not tip the scales. LED harsh lights (especially the blue/white ones) trigger migraine. In my own daily experience they really are a source of daily agony for me. No, I am not moaning for the sake of it.....I have every good reason to pass onto you a sincere warning from my own experience and from that of others around me. Before I explain, I need to ask that you do not quote statistics to disprove my own very real daily is a most disrespectful and coldly disregarding way into which to rubbish how dazzling LED lights have inconvenienced both myself and everyone I know, who have at some time experienced the dazzling from harsh bright white LED lights. I always have been a fiercely independent person, never sought sympathy or dependence for anything, and have been so right up until the time they installed LED streetlights and manufactured LED car headlights. It was a disappointing experience. Some of you might not suffer migraine yourself, but what it really does is effectively create a disability which otherwise would certainly not be issue, or even be in existence. Even non-migraine sufferers have told me that the white halo of glare from some headlights in their rear view mirrors make cyclists and pedestrians disappear. Thanks to regular painful dazzling my life has been turned upside down: I am a hindrance at work, and have also been forced to give up running. I ran every other day. But since the very day they installed these eye-drilling harsh lights everywhere I have been forced to stay indoors every evening in order to avoid LED light drilled migraine. I am effectively a prisoner in order to avoid pain. I have also been kept awake for two years because of these LED streetlights and I became very ill from it, nearly losing my job, having brain scans and paying hand over fist for expensive medicines that I would not have needed, just because I have had my eyes drilled into by painful LED light glare night after night, day after day. I complained to the Council to do something about the painful LED streetlight that bothered me all night long. After they finally installed an anti-glare filter on the offending streetlight, a neighbour installed another eye-drilling LED spotlight.... directed at my house again. Despite a year of telling them and the council, nothing has been done, probably because of funding cuts. In the meantime LED lights have ruined my health and will continue to do so. Even with black out blinds and curtains, the harsh blue/white dawn effect glare from this LED spotlight will creep out from the sides of my windows and wake me up at 1.40am, etc. Please think twice about installing LED streetlights. It is not acceptable and it is not fair to ruin the lives of others just for the sake of pretty looking lights. Some of you may argue about effective CCTV recording? For what? There is little deterrent set out for offenders when caught on CCTV......... very little. So why make residents suffer night glare night after night for many CCTV recordings that do not even result in bringing justice. Police work hard, and most of the time courts are guided over limitations to the prison service....get the picture.....decent ordinary people who have to haul their backside out of bed on a dark morning to earn a living....lose sleep over LED streetlights; and then to add insult to injury the successful CCTV recording from LED is not really that important anyway. I most certainly do not feel safe in my community thanks to policing cuts and no real effective deterrent further down the line; so why light the way for criminals to see what they are doing when they know they have little consequence to fear? For the sake of migraine sufferers, for the sake of human health, and well-being please think twice about installing the harsh white LED. If you have to install LED, then please do warm LED or at least make it compulsory for anti-glare filters. The glare from the harsh blue/white and bright/white LED is way beyond acceptable for all night use and visibility on the road. We need to reduce the risk of accidents. We need to reduce risks of light pollution and how it effects wildlife as well, so please urgently review LED headlights and streetlights. They are extremely dangerous to human health, and do little good for well-being all round until such time that timers and anti-glare filters are compulsory.

Does not surprise me . He's too busy putting in cycles lanes to worry about crime and lighting

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