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4 planning considerations for sports lighting

All new sports lighting projects require planning permission and there are a number of planning considerations that are important for anyone looking to get floodlights installed for their club or school sports pitches.


Most councils acknowledge that a floodlit sports pitch brings benefits to the local community by creating safer recreational spaces and making more effective use of existing sports facilities.


To achieve these benefits though, careful consideration needs to be taken when designing a sports lighting installation to minimise potential of any negative impact on the local area.


Below, we highlight 4 planning considerations for sports lighting that are important when it comes to submitting and obtaining planning permission.


1. Impact on the surrounding areas

For facilities located in built-up areas, sports lighting needs to be designed to minimise overspill and light pollution as much as possible so that nearby houses and other developments aren’t inconvenienced by the floodlights.


A floodlit facility allows for increased playing hours which may also increase traffic and parking requirements around the facility. This too may be perceived as additional impact on surrounding residential areas.


In granting planning permission, a council may set a planning condition with a curfew time stating when the lights must be switched off at night.


2. Impact on the local ecology

For similar reasons as above, sports lighting should aim to have the least impact on local ecology as possible. This includes considerate choices for floodlight colour or the colour of the lighting masts so that they complement and blend in with the sky or nearby vegetation as much as possible.


Increased lighting during the hours of darkness can affect the natural rhythms of nearby flora and wildlife, such as bats. An intelligent lighting design will minimise impact through product selection and the position of floodlights.

haliday lighting planning and design services for floodlights

Considerable technical expertise is required to create a sports lighting design and a number of professional bodies exist to set standards for how this should be done. It is therefore important that guidance from these organisations is followed for a planning application for floodlights to be granted.


3. Designed in accordance with ILP guidelines

The guidance from the Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) addresses design considerations and recommendations for the reduction of obtrusive light. This includes lighting height and position, light intensity, use of lights during periods of inactivity, and more.


4. Designed in accordance with CIBSE guidelines

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) guidance for floodlights can be found in LG04: Sports Lighting (2006). This guide describes general requirements for sports lighting, including safety, planning requirements, light distribution, and more. It also provides specific considerations for more than 50 separate sports, including hockey, football, rugby and lawn tennis.

Obtaining planning permission for floodlights usually takes around 12 weeks assuming no specific challenges or difficulties are faced.


We recommend that you seek professional advice and support before starting a floodlight project to ensure you have the best chance of submitting a suitable planning application and receiving permission to continue with your project.


At Halliday Lighting, our expert team are able to support you with lighting designs, environmental impact assessments and planning application guidance at no cost pre-project to help you bring your project to fruition.


Please get in contact with us to discuss your project requirements.


For further general information about sports lighting in the UK, please check out the guidance from Sport England.