Seeing clearly: How lighting can make London a better city

This report explores the benefits of better lighting across the capital and outlines how improvements could be achieved.

A well-lit city comes with many benefits. It can enable people to spend more time enjoying culture, restaurants, shops and nightlife and make active journeys easier, safer and more enjoyable. Well-designed lighting could even contribute to London’s green recovery by achieving large cuts in energy use and reducing light pollution. It can also function as public art – making the capital more beautiful and interesting.

But London is largely missing out on these opportunities because it lacks a city-wide strategic approach to lighting and good design practice is often ignored. Only two of London’s 33 local authorities have adopted a lighting strategy – when other European cities have had them for years.

Relatively modest changes in policy and practice would hugely improve the quality of London’s lighting, as well as support economic, civic and cultural activity that will help the city recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Key recommendations

The Mayor of London should:

  • Provide a framework that boroughs can build on to develop their lighting strategies, as well as provide Supplementary Planning Guidance setting out how light should be treated in planning applications.

London boroughs should:

  • Develop an overarching framework for lighting in each borough to guide public streetlighting, and coordinate and regulate lighting from public and private sources;

  • Pilot events where lights are dimmed or switched off as a way to create a public conversation about light, as well as provide resources and professional support to residents and community groups so they can bid for funding to carry out lighting improvements.

Developers should:

  • Base their lighting interventions on evidence of existing lighting and social conditions. Engaging lighting designers as early as possible in the design process can help with this process.
  • Incorporate public participation into their qualitative research using proven methods (e.g. night walks).

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) should:

  • Act as lighting “owners” and take responsibility for coordinating lighting across public and private sectors.

Supporting Sponsors

This project has been generously supported by