Lighting Up The Sky

Residents furious over Westfield's roof-top lighting plans

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Another row has broken out between local residents and Westfield over the company's plans to switch on their roof-top “feature lighting” around the perimeter of the building.

Westfield are planning to test the roof-top lights on Wednesday (April 15) but some residents have threatened legal action if the company goes ahead with the lighting scheme.

Those living close to the shopping centre were furious earlier in the year when the roof lighting was turned on as well as an illuminated sign on the Wood Lane side of the shopping centre.

“The last time the lights were turned on, all of our houses were so full of light that it was like a 747's head lights coming into our homes,” said Mark Sumariwalla of nearby MacFarlane Road.

“At the time I also I went to an local estate agent who told me that prices could go down between 10%-15% due to the lights. They know that most people will not notice the lights until the long summer days are over. Once the winter comes it will get dark at 4pm and the light will be a living hell,” he said.

Responding to complaints over the roof-top lights, Westfield say they will be switched on at a very low level and will be switched off when the shopping centre closes.

“We have agreed to turning off the lighting scheme at centre close, at 10pm. As also indicated, the plant screening and co-ordinated lighting scheme is a planning condition for Westfield London. In recognition of our environmental commitments and the concerns of our neighbours we are therefore suggesting energizing the lighting scheme at the minimum lux level for it to be perceived ie. 25% brightness,” Westfield say.

However, those living close to the shopping centre say no level of lighting would be acceptable to them. “The lighting IS unnecessary. It is also a pollutant, serves no purpose and wastes energy. There is therefore NO justification,” said resident James While.

“The irony is, the Group has introduced numerous energy-saving and recycling initiatives across the entire United Kingdom portfolio, such as energy efficiency, car sharing and encouraging retailers and customers to use public transport,” said While.

We asked the Council why they had granted Westfield planning permission for the lighting scheme, given the proximity of so many homes, and whether they had sought residents' views.

A Council spokesperson said: “All lighting at Westfield has been approved by the council. Only one person has complained about the feature roof lighting. Westfield is currently carrying out tests to determine the brightness of the lights and the time at which they shall be switched on at night. Westfield has informed local residents of the feature roof lighting.”

Westfield said: "The lighting scheme has full planning consent from LBHF. Some residents have previously commented that lighting was too bright in the past. We have listened to their views and responded by reducing the lighting to minimum lux levels. In addition, the lights will only be illuminated between sunset and centre closing time."

Westfield agreed to remove the giant illuminated sign on Wood Lane last February after a barrage of complaints from residents.

Yasmine Estaphanos

14 April 2009