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Sheffield City Council (21 012 666)

Category : Transport and highways > Street furniture and lighting

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 05 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complained about high levels of light intrusion into her property after the Council replaced a streetlight outside her home. We have discontinued our investigation into this complaint because the Council have reassessed the light and fitted a frosted panel which has reduced the light glare. We would not be able to add anything more to the outcome.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complained about a high level of light intrusion into her property after the Council installed an LED light on a streetlight outside her home. Mrs X says the Council have not provided a meaningful response about the position of the light. Mrs X also says the light intrusion impacts the enjoyment of her home, as it shines directly into her bedroom and living room. Mrs X would like the Council to reduce the brightness of the light, or to install a shade to prevent light intrusion into her property.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mrs X and discussed the complaint with her. I also considered the Council’s comments on the complaint and the supporting information it provided. I invited Mrs X and the Council to comment on our draft decision before making a final decision.

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What I found

Legislation

  1. The Highways Act 1980 states the highway authority, in this case, the Council, can construct and maintain lamps, posts and other works they consider necessary for the purpose of the highway.
  2. Councils should meet the relevant British Standards when installing new street lighting. British Standard (BS) 5489 is the Code of Practice for the design of road lighting.
  3. Councils should also consider the need to avoid unacceptable obtrusive light from streetlights. The Institute of Lighting Professionals has introduced specific guidance notes for reducing obtrusive light (ILP guidance notes). These recommend light limits dependent on the residential setting but are for guidance only.

What happened

  1. The Council replaced two streetlights outside Mrs X property with LED lamps.
  2. Mrs X says one of the streetlights is causing light intrusion into her property which is impacting the privacy and enjoyment of the front rooms in her home.
  3. Mrs X complained to the Council and sent it photographs of the streetlight. Mrs X asked the Council to visit and measure the light shining on her house.
  4. Following Mrs X complaint, a lighting level test was conducted. The light reading taken from Mrs X property was measured at 9.3 lux.
  5. The Council told Mrs X it would not be taking any further action. Mrs X felt the Council had not given any consideration to the position and direction of the light, which she felt was contributing to the intensity of the intrusion.

The Council’s response

  1. In response to my enquiries, the Council made arrangements with Mrs X to visit the site again.
  2. The Council checked the direction of the light which it found to be in the correct position. The Council trialled turning the lantern 90 degrees, however Mrs X and Mr X reported the lantern was causing light intrusion into their neighbours’ property. The lantern was then turned back to its original position.
  3. Following the Council’s visit, it fitted a frosted panel to the side of the lantern. The Council took a further light test from Mrs X property and the light reading was measured at 8.03 lux.
  4. Mrs X contacted the Council to advise it that light was still intruding into her property. The Council revisited the site, and it fitted an additional frosted strip to the panel.

Analysis

  1. The Council conducted a light test, and the results did not exceed the limit of 10 lux outlined by the Institute of Lighting Professionals. It revisited the site and turned the direction of the lamp to see if this would reduce the light intrusion into Mrs X’s property. When this was unsuccessful, the Council fitted a frosted panel to the streetlight.
  2. Mrs X reported that despite the frosted panel, light was still intruding into her property. The Council revisited the site, and it fitted an additional frosted strip to the panel. Mrs X confirmed with the Council that this had resolved the matter.
  3. We must also consider whether there are any public interest reasons which justify continuing our investigation.
  4. We have discontinued our investigation because the Council have resolved the issue and we would not be able to add anything more to the outcome. Further, I cannot see any wider public interest reasons to continue our investigation into this complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We have discontinued our investigation into this complaint. This is because the Council have since reassessed the direction of light and fitted a frosted panel which has resolved the issue. We would not be able to add anything more to the outcome and there are no wider public interest reasons to continue our investigation into this complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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