London council abandons plans to phase out traditional gas lamps for LED bulbs

Proposals to upgrade 174 gas lamps in the borough of Westminster to LED bulbs have been dropped by the local council.

Following extensive consultation with heritage bodies, gas lamp enthusiasts and residents, Westminster City Council has decided to halt the proposed conversion.

The 174 gas lamps include 138 Grade II listed gas lamps and 36 non-listed gas lamps in prominent locations throughout the city which will continue to light the streets of Westminster.

In a change to its proposals, the council will now convert 94 unlisted gas lamps to LEDs. They will feature the latest LED lighting developed by specialist manufacturers that reproduces the soft glow of “honey” lighting, as well as mantle, pipe and clock replicas.

In addition, the designs of the three replacement lantern styles will be improved to more closely reflect the details of the original lanterns, in consultation with Historic England and other heritage bodies.

The council has also heard from Westminster residents and residents’ groups who have urged the council to replace gas lamps with LED lights as part of its wider climate action commitments.

The council has admitted concerns remain over mounting delays in repairing the gas pipes that power these lamps, which leave some streets dark for long periods posing a safety risk. It said it would work with suppliers to try to fix the problem, but said it may need to electrify more gas lamps when it faces long delays in repairs.

Councilor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality at Westminster City Council, said: “We thank everyone who has commented and contributed to the debate on this very serious and passionate issue.

“We have listened carefully to heritage bodies, gas lamp enthusiasts and residents who have expressed their views and we now propose to adjust our proposals to reflect the concerns expressed. Public safety has always been our primary consideration, but we also recognize the serious financial issues at stake.

“We hope that by keeping the 174 gas lights burning across Westminster, we can both keep our streets safe and preserve our precious heritage. The conversion of the 94 unlisted gas lamps to LED will make a positive contribution to the municipality’s goal of zero carbon emissions by 2030.”

The consultation was suspended by the previous administration ahead of the May 2022 city council elections.

Following the election, the newly elected council reactivated and expanded the consultation with three on-site public presentations, attracting over 100 people. The council received over 1,250 representations.

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