Gloucestershire County Cricket Club have applied for permission to increase the limit on the number of times they’re allowed to use their floodlights from fifteen to seventeen for the 2019 season only. This is to allow two practice sessions to be played under the lights for visiting Cricket World Cup teams.
I, like many people locally, am concerned about the precedent that this could set, and would like to ensure that this isn’t the thin end of the wedge to either permanently increase the number of permitted uses or to allow permanent permission for use of the floodlights for practice sessions (or both).
You can read my full comment below, and you can view the application by visiting planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications and searching 19/01021/X
My full comment on the application
The existing permission for the floodlights was granted on the grounds that the adverse impact on residential amenity due to the use (and presence) of the lights is outweighed by the wider positive socio-economic impact of having international cricket in Bristol (with the lights being a prerequisite for that).
By extension, any further uses of the floodlights beyond the currently permitted fifteen uses per year will have a further negative impact on residential amenity. Thus, the question arises whether the impact of the two additional uses is outweighed by other matters.
It should firstly be noted that the additional two uses will be for training sessions only, so there will not be fans present, music played, etc. Therefore, the adverse impact of the additional uses is limited to light pollution and so reduces the overall negative impact on residential amenity.
However, within the extant permission fifteen uses per year was set as a definitive upper limit and use for practice matches was not permitted.
That said, hosting the World Cup is an immense honour for our city and for the local area, not to mention the positive economic impact, and in the range of exceptional circumstances this is arguably the most exceptional circumstance possible.
My key concern, if permission is granted, is that it is clear that this is an exceptional circumstance, not to be repeated. That means that any permission should be a one-off and should not set a precedent for future years, both in terms of the number of uses and in waiving the requirement to only use the lights for competitive matches.
This is a key concern within the local community, and from reading the public comments it is clear that many of those who have objected to this application do not object to the one-off additional uses in principle, but object out of fear of the precedent it could set. Therefore, if a precedent can be explicitly precluded then it would help to assure residents and would hopefully improve the community’s trust in the club’s intentions. If this is not possible, then the application should be refused to prevent setting a dangerous precedent that could be exploited to the future detriment of residential amenity.
Similarly, it has been noted by some public commenters that the quality of the application is low and is open to (mis)interpretation. I refer officers particularly to the technical issues raised by Earlsfield Town Planning Ltd (not to say I necessarily agree or disagree with their conclusions). These should be resolved, and if it is not possible to do so then the application should be refused, again to prevent setting of a precedent/loopholes.