Monday, 16 May 2022

Bridge lights could be coloured to mark special occasions

Bridge lights could be coloured to mark special occasions

CAMPAIGNERS say the proposed lighting of Henley Bridge could use different colours on special occasions, such as pink for the royal regatta.

The Make Henley Shine group is appealing for support from the town.

It wants to put 470 LED lights on the Grade I listed bridge, which dates back to 1786.

The group, which has applied for charitable status, is to launch a crowdfunding appeal in the spring to raise up to £150,000 to finance the “arts project” for 10 years.

Daniel Bausor, from Bix, who chairs the group, and Henley architect Gavin Jackson, updated a meeting of town councillors last week.

They hope to gift control of the lights to the council, which would decide when to have them on and even to change their colour via a laptop. Each light would be programmable.

Mr Bausor told the meeting of the council’s town and community committee: “Based on feedback, we’d want to have it warm white for the majority of the year but there are opportunities to be smart about fundraising.

“For example, during regatta week, you could give permission as the town council so that Leander could light it pink for regatta week, which creates a tourist experience.”

Mr Bausor, a customer experience specialist whose wife Jo is chief executive of the Henley Festival, has said previously that illuminating the bridge would revitalise Henley and help attract new visitors.

He previously worked on the Illuminated River project, which turned nine of London’s bridges into art installations at night.

This also involved using energy-efficient LED lights that reduce energy consumption and light spill on the river.

Deputy Mayor Michelle Thomas said: “I think the commercialisation of any civic space is potentially controversial.

“I don’t know if the people who signed a petition for it would be happy with that.”

Mr Bausor replied: “We listened to what the feedback from the town was.

“They didn’t want a Blackpool illuminations coming to Henley, which we don’t want either, we want something that really fits with Henley.

“We’ll be using the world-leading most sustainable LED lighting.

“This gives Henley the opportunity to be the first town outside London to have a sustainably lit bridge which we think will really help revitalise the town as we come out of covid.

“No town can rest on its laurels, we need to think about how we constantly reinvent the experience.

“It would be a great if we could get your support to try to make this happen in 2022. We can’t do it on our own, we want your support and guidance on fundraising and making it a reality.”

The group plans to launch a crowdfunding website in the spring.

Mr Bausor said: “We really want this to be a community project. It could be that a family purchase a light. I’ve had people get in touch who’ve lost loved ones to covid and they want to have a light in their memory on the bridge.”

Stephen Rouatt, UK chief executive of Signify, which would provide the lights, said: “Light is one of the most powerful means of breathing new life into cities and towns, heralding a new era of urban design and beautification.

“We’ve lit bridges around the world and seen first-hand the positive impact that dynamic architectural lighting has on transforming local communities and economies.

“We are excited with the opportunity to be a part of the project and it would be great to be able to give residents and visitors of Henley a stunningly lit-up iconic bridge.”

Cllr Thomas said: “In terms of planning, it’s a Grade I listed structure, while the majority of the bridges in London you’ve referred to are Grade II.

“There’s a whole world of difference between I and II, so the conservation officers are going to look very seriously at the fixings.”

Mr Jackson replied: “We don’t want to fix anything to any piece of stone. The lights would rest on the arches so the amount of fixings would be minute. The aim is that we could remove this and not have damaged a single piece of stone.”

Councillor David Eggleton said: “There are quite a few issues with the electrical supply down there. Unless that’s sorted out with quite a lot of cost I don’t think you’d be able to connect to the mains on the bridge.”

Town clerk Sheridan
Jacklin-Edward said: “That has been raised very recently. If it needs upgrading then the town council would probably, at some point, need to do that upgrade.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “I’m generally supportive of enhancing our natural assets and I’m really pleased to see the people who are involved and that there’s an energy for it.

“One thing that did concern me slightly is there’s no such thing as a free gift to the town council.

“How much does it cost in 25 years when they need replacing? This means signing up future councils to a bridge we don’t own or have a say over.”

Mr Bausor said the money raised would fund the project for 10 years and after that the lights could be removed if the council so chose.

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “I think this is going to be a fantastic project if it’s done properly.

“I hope the town will get behind it in terms of fund-
raising and hopefully some of the businesses will come

“I know there’s going to be huge issues but unless we try we don’t know.”

Mr Jacklin-Edward said Make Henley Shine could apply to the council for a grant.

The proposal will need planning permission from South Oxfordshire District Council and Wokingham Borough Council and the support of Oxfordshire County Council, which is responsible for the bridge.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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