Streetlights in two more Shaftesbury streets are being replaced with more traditional lamps.
Shaftesbury Town Council has set aside £10,000 to pay for a dozen Victorian-style ‘heritage lanterns’ at Parsons Pool and Bell Street. Work to transform lighting in St James Street will soon be finished. Town Clerk Claire Commons said that councillors considered this old-fashioned style of heritage light to be more ‘in keeping’ with the conservation area. “It’s responding to the special historic nature of our town. We’re very lucky to have a beautiful history and it’s important to protect that,” said Claire.
Claire explained how functional lighting had been transformed along St James Street. “We drew the historic nature of that street scene to the attention of the electric company and Dorset County Council. We’ve worked closely with Southern Electric to get bespoke lanterns, which are more in keeping, put in place,” said Claire.
The Council have been working with lighting experts on ways to tone down the bright LED lights. Some people feel that this newer technology produces a harsh light. Claire says they’ve tried to strike a balance between the need to reduce light pollution and preserve the atmosphere of St James.
“The LEDS are very bright but they are very directional, whereas the old style lanterns would spread light and there would be a lot of light pollution resulting from them,” Claire said. “It used to be a soft phosphorescent light in St James. We needed to work to get the bulbs and the lantern casings to suit the area,” Mrs Commons added.
A number of the new St James lights are gas lamp-style lanterns. Claire said that a few of these lamps would be ‘bolt on box lights’ on the side of buildings. “They are really inconspicuous. You don’t notice they are there until you look up for them,” Claire said.
This heritage lighting will only be put up in the conservation areas of St James, Bell St and Parsons Pool. There are no plans to replace streetlamps elsewhere in Shaftesbury with quaint lanterns. “It would be unrealistic to have them everywhere because the cost to the town would be excessive,” said Claire. “The Town Council is going to be picking up the bill for the cost, over and above replacing the municipal lights. There are parts of the town that are more modern and the municipal lights are appropriate for those areas.”
Claire says there may be delay in replacing the current municipal lighting, though. That’s due to Dorset District and County Councils merging to create a new unitary super-authority. “We’re waiting on the County Council for a site visit and with the merger coming, everything is being slowed up. I’m hoping it will happen early next year but I can’t make any promises,” she said.