Action to be taken on 'Wembley Stadium' floodlights in Harrogate after residents protests

A major housing developer in Harrogate says it has started to take action over floodlights which angry residents claim look like a scene from the Close Encounters movie.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:26 am
Updated Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:30 am

The Harrogate Advertiser approached the developer and local authorities after protests from people living in the Pannal Ash area that giant new floodlights installed as part of work on a new housing development at Whinney Lane near the Squinting Cat pub looked like "something from Wembley Stadium."

The floodlights had been erected by Stonebridge housing developers at the request of the pub which had complained to North Yorkshire County Council that his staff walked up the path at night and it was unlit.

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Close Encounters: The scene at Whinney Lane in Harrogate earlier this week before some action was taken over the giant floodlights. (Picture Gered Binks)

But the move has backfired as residents say the lights have been overpowering the area.

Resident Mike Newall said: "We thought that they would be simple LED lights on the existing fence, but then two huge lighting towers went up.

"Then three more arrived and now it is like Wembley stadium. While the generators are quiet, my neighbour can hear them at night.

"The other weekend, they burned bright 24 hours a day.

"They are completely over the top and flood the fields with light at night causing light pollution and probably upsetting local wildlife."

People living in the Pannal Ash area were already upset at the prospect of hundreds of new houses being built round Whinney Lane and have mobilised in an attempt to block some of the proposals.

The developer Stonebridge is building 130 homes at Castle Hill Farm on Whinney Lane and plans have been submitted by Banks Group for 270 homes and a new primary school on the fields opposite the Stonebridge development.

Residents' mood has not been improved by the way the new housing developments are being handled.

Having been told at the original planning meeting that there would be a short closure of Whinney Lane due to the construction of two site access points for the Castle Hill Farm housing development, as well as a new roundabout, the schedule has since stretched into months.

The road closure is not now expected to end until February 2021.

In the meantime, residents are also enduring heavy wagons going up and down the area, in particular, at Hill Foot Lane.

But both Stonebridge and North Yorkshire County Council have told the Harrogate Advertiser that they are now trying to address residents' complaints, as far as is possible.

Talking to the Advertiser, Stewart Loben, construction director for Stonebridge Homes, said “We have been made aware of feedback regarding the brightness of the lighting on Whinney Lane and we are now working to resolve this.

"Our planned work has resulted in us being unable to use the street lighting, and so we have introduced temporary lighting for the pedestrian footpath.

"We are now looking at a longer term solution to reduce the brightness – and will implement this as soon as possible.

“The planned road works have suffered delays due to the COVID-19 health pandemic, but we are also working to minimise future disruption by working with other developers, Yorkshire Water and local partners, who also have work planned in the area.”

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council's executive member for transport and access, said, having spoken to Stonebridge and the appropriate county council departments, said progress was being made.

In fact, the county council even supplied new photos of how the lighting had been reduced.

Coun Mackenzie's update on Whinney Lane:

Lighting

All the lighting has been lowered and two of the four lights have been turned off. They have also removed two columns nearest to the residents.

The solar light is in place and will be tested when dark this evening. If deemed suitable, they will look to order the remaining units today.

Road closure duration

Stonebridge are having a meeting on Friday with their services contractor, so will discuss further to see if they can speed up the construction works.

HGV Routing and Manoeuvring

With regards to the signage and vehicle movements, the contract manager for Stonebridge is going to drive the route and check this evening and make sure they’re working to the approved traffic management plan and make sure everything is to plan.

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