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Lighting Scheme to bring back the ‘Magic’ to Weymouth Promenade

Lighting Scheme to bring back the ‘Magic’ to Weymouth Promenade
Posted : December 14, 2017

Plans to create a new seafront lighting scheme for Weymouth Promenade move a step closer following a series of public engagement events and a design brief inviting artists to express interest in designing the new scheme.  The design brief has been approved on Tuesday 12th December by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Management Committee.

Weymouth residents and visitors were invited to express their feeling through a questionnaire on the existing lighting scheme and how the look and feel of the lighting could be improved.  The engagement sessions were run by Dorset Coast Forum, an independent strategic coastal partnership which is coordinating a portfolio of 18 projects including the Weymouth Promenade Lighting project; all 18 have received funding from the Coastal Communities Fund, and have community input at their heart.

Over 880 people completed the questionnaire either at one of the four engagement sessions or on-line.  42% of people who responded said they like ‘fairy’ or traditional catenary lights because they are colourful, warm, welcoming, traditional and that people have an emotional attachment to this type of lighting.  Other design features people said they would like to see included in the new scheme were; cost-effective, environmentally friendly lighting, LED technology, and the lighting should fit in with the heritage and Georgian architecture of the sea front.

Dorset Coastal Connections Project Officer Nikki Parker-Goadsby said,

“We were delighted to see that so many people came along to the engagement events, or gave their views through the website. The community’s ideas, thoughts and preferences are now outlined in the design brief with the next exciting step being to commission an artist to create a new scheme that meets the aspirations of the Weymouth community”.

Since the community engagement in Aug-Oct 2017 the project team have been researching the technical aspects of lighting along the seafront; and it has now been confirmed that the County Council owned street lighting columns along the esplanade are unable to take the weight of a catenary lighting system. Also, the promenade’s status as a Conservation Area means that additional ‘clutter’ must be kept to a minimum.  The new lighting scheme must complement the existing promenade lighting and any alterations to the existing scheme are beyond the scope of this project.

Nicky Whittenham, Founding Director of Bounce Back Arts who will be coordinating the commissioning of an artist said;

“I think it’s a great, creative solution to use modern, lightweight technology in celebration of the promenade’s heritage, which evokes the atmosphere, views and image that people feel was lost when the old fairy lights went. I feel confident that the artist’s creative journey – taken in an ongoing partnership with the local community – will result in a beautiful and joyful scheme to be enjoyed by all, and which once more secures the prom’s position as the jewel in Weymouth’s crown.”

The design brief was approved by the Weymouth & Portland Borough Councils Management Committee on the 12th December (the call-in period will end on 21st December after which the decision taken by the Committee is confirmed).

Cllr Richard Kosior, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Tourism, Culture and Harbour, said;

“I’d like to thank all residents who took the time to attend one of the drop in sessions or had their say online. After today’s approval at the Management Committee we look forward to appointing a designer to work up exciting, detailed proposals for the new lighting scheme for Weymouth’s historic seafront. The chosen artist will be working closely with the relevant engineering departments who have the expertise, experience and local knowledge to ensure a correct and timely installation.”

The successful artist will join the Project Team in April 2018 and will reach out to the community again for their involvement in helping to shape the final design. The agreed design will likely be subject to planning permission, and once this is secured and appropriate contractors are in place, final installation of the scheme is planned for Spring 2019.

Further information and the full Weymouth Seafront Lighting Community Consultation report can be viewed on the Dorset Coastal Connections Engagement website http://www.dorsetcoasthaveyoursay.co.uk/weymouth-promenade-lighting

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