A BRIGHT light in a dark park has become a major flashpoint between environmental watchdogs and planners.
The 10-metre security floodlight in the Sele park in the centre of Hexham, branded “obtrusive and garish” has been installed to deter troublemakers.
But Hexham Civic Society says Northumberland County Council has broken its own conditions by putting in a bright metallic pole instead of the agreed graphite black.
The Civic Society also claims the council was at fault in not speaking to the Garden History Society, a statutory consultee, before granting permission for the light near the famous century-old bandstand.
Now the case has been referred to the Local Authority Ombudsman with the Civic Society asking for the floodlight to be removed.
A county council spokesman said yesterday: “The lighting column will be painted black. It was not possible for this to be done pre-installation.
“The primer and paint have been ordered and the work will be done as soon as the weather conditions are suitable.”
However, Hexham Civic Society chairman Roger Higgins said last night: “Painting it prior to erection was a condition stipulated by the council.
“We’ve lodged a formal objection to the ombudsman and now the column is up, feel just as strongly that it is poorly designed and industrial in character.
“At the very least, Northumberland County Council should replace the sodium lighting with white lighting which would match the more sympathetic lighting around the bandstand.”
In a letter to the council’s head of development services Karen Ledger, Mr Higgins said: “We consider that the installation is in breach of the Decision Notice and hope that you will be able to instruct your staff to remove the installed items until such time as they can be erected in accordance with the conditions.
“We acknowledge that the colour of the column is perhaps of relatively minor importance given the general adverse impact of the scale of the column, and the harshness of its orange low sodium lighting that now clearly detracts from the environmental quality of The Sele.
“However, we feel that Northumberland County Council should show a good example by ensuring that it meets its own stipulated conditions when carrying out development.”
Hexham Civic Society committee member Wendy Breach added: “The park is now lit up like a dockyard.”
Permission for the light was granted in August and county council planning officer Jennie Adamson described the lighting, which has 400-watt and 250-watt lamps, as “a minimalistic modern style” which would not have serious affects on the tranquil nature of the park.
The Hexham parks, including The Sele alongside Beaumont Street, are Grade II-listed under the Historic Parks and Gardens Register, and stand within the Hexham Conservation Area.