Light pollution issue leads council to restrict opening hours of new car park

Photo of the new car park extension at Brook Way Activity Centre (looking north).

A newly opened £37,000 extension to the car park at Bradley Stoke Town Council’s Brook Way Activity Centre site is having to be closed off by 4pm each day because of a dispute over light pollution.

The new parking zone has been constructed on part of the former hard court sports area at the site (pictured below), which had lain unused for many years.

In order to access the 18 new parking bays, vehicles need to negotiate a short incline, because the surface of the extension intentionally sits higher than that of the existing car park.

As previously reported, the split-level design was necessary to comply with a planning constraint which forbade deep excavation of the former hard court area for fear of damaging tree roots.

Following the opening of the extension in November, residents of neighbouring properties in The Common, which runs along the southern boundary of the site, have complained of light pollution caused by the headlamps of vehicles ascending the incline to reach the new parking bays.

In a letter sent to the town council, the chair of Stoke Lodge and The Common Parish Council says the headlamp issue is affecting up to four properties in The Common. Residents say the beams of light are traversing up and down the front of their properties, reaching as high as the roof ridge and passing windows at all levels.

The residents claim the car park “contravenes the planning permission and is breach of environmental law” and insist that it should not be used until remedial measures have been put in place by the town council.

A condition on the planning permission granted for the car park extension required the town council to submit a landscaping plan which “should expressly demonstrate how it mitigates against the impact of headlights from cars using the parking area” and the subsequently submitted plan was approved by South Gloucestershire Council. However, the residents claim that the approved scheme provides no cover in winter and some additional screening formed of wind-break fabric is ineffective against light pollution.

Photo showing the incline between the original car park (on left) and the extension area.

When the matter was brought before November’s meeting of Full Council, some councillors argued that no action was necessary as the town council had complied with all conditions of the planning permission. However, following much discussion it was resolved to close off the car park after 4pm each day and arrange a meeting with the residents on site.

The Journal understands that following the site meeting, the town council has agreed to implement further planting along the boundary with The Common. The car park extension will continue to be closed at 4pm, using portable barriers for the time being until a permanent solution using a metal barrier or drop-down bollards can be implemented.

In practice, the extension is often being closed off much earlier than 4pm – on occasions when the activity centre has no further bookings for the day, meaning that the new facility is of little benefit to patients attending the busy doctors’ surgery which shares the site.

Image showing outline location of new parking bays on the hard court area (indicative only).

Photos – Top: The new car park extension (looking north). Middle: Incline between the original car park (on left) and the extension area. Above: How the hard court area looked before it was removed.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 32 & 33). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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