Private Lighting in the city. Workshop 18 September 2018, in Lyon. REPORT

Initiated in 2017, the “ROCK” European project (Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural heritage in creative and Knowledge cities) focuses on historical city centres as extraordinary laboratories to demonstrate the potential of cultural heritage as a driver for regeneration, sustainable development and economic growth.

In the context of ROCK, the City of Lyon, one of the partner cities of this major project, with support from LUCI Association, is exploring how urban lighting strategies contribute to this dynamic and how their governance can be improved, especially in terms of private lighting in public spaces and the challenge of “light cacophony”.

To better understand these challenges at the European level, the City of Lyon and LUCI initiated a study on this topic, distributing a questionnaire that was filled out by about 25 cities. This was followed by a workshop in Lyon on 18 September 2018 gathering 28 people from 10 cities to share and exchange about the topic. Organised in three separate sessions, the workshop was an opportunity for participants and presenters to explore existing policies and practices around private lighting in public space, both in terms of soft and hard power.

Participants presented their cities’ point of view and existing policies (if any) on the topic during short roundtable introductions, highlighting an interest in finding a balance between public and private lighting and defining the boundary between the two.

The first part of the day focused on defining the question of private lighting and urban nightscapes. This was followed by a brief overview of the survey responses [see Annex] and a presentation of the issue at hand with Lyon’s approach. Lyon concluded that the issue is not to ban private lighting but to be able to control it and find the right balance for a city’s nightscape through regulation and dialogue. This requires further thought into what to measure, what to ban, and how to negotiate with stakeholders.

Next, the workshop focused on private lighting “hard power” concerning existing legislations and recommendations. Geneva (Switzerland), Liverpool (UK), and Seoul (South Korea) presented about each of their own existing policies, highlighting challenges unique to each city. While Geneva has many laws and regulations in place, enforcing these proves challenging, especially as lighting permits for projects often come too late in the process, after a project is finalized. Liverpool discussed the need for a framework around private lighting but that there is a lack of resources to put this in place. Seoul presented their recently launched Light Pollution Prevention Act, explaining the various types of lighting it applies to (advertising and decorative lighting), the guidelines in place, and the Seoul Good Light Committee.

Ghent (Belgium), Glasgow (UK), and Gothenburg (Sweden) presented within the context of a session on private lighting and “soft power”, focusing on possible governance-related actions and recommendations. Ghent explained that while there is guidance about good private lighting within the city’s Light Plan, there is little political way to enforce it. Like Geneva mentioned earlier, it is more important to find ways of preventing these issues than later enforcing rules. Glasgow described a design-led placemaking approach within the Canal Regeneration Partnership which has allowed for a shared vision and objectives together leading to positive cooperation and negotiation. Gothenburg noted that there is a major gap between the city’s lighting policy and the technical handbook for lighting professionals and the need to fill this gap with information that can be distilled and communicated to the private sector.

The final part of the workshop consisted of a “World Café” where participants divided up into groups and answered the following questions:
1) What criteria should be used to define acceptable private lighting?
2) How to enforce regulations/recommendations (in the case of “hard power”)?
3) How do you see this topic evolving in the future?; and 4) How do we build this discussion/workshop into a policy?.

Key takeaways from these discussions are detailed in the following report.

More information about ROCK Private Lighting in Public Space_Workshop Report_FINAL , click here.