Stockton High Street

Stockton Council recently completed a major regeneration of Stockton’s High Street. The total project value was approximately £20m pounds with the installed cost of the lighting elements being in excess of £1.5m pounds. This included the central area focal point, the illumination of a number of key structures and buildings, dedicated spaces for the regular and specialist markets and other events, and new lighting installation.

The project provided an opportunity to completely transform the area to meet the demands of the town centre, both now and for many years to come.

Stockton’s recent history recognises its role as the ‘North East’s Capital of Street Arts’. Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) has created an important signature and personality for the town. One of the major aims of the High Street regeneration was to improve the quality of the experience for shoppers, visitors, and to local businesses.

The main ethos behind the scheme was to create an environment that, through the delivery of a great public space in the town centre, would attract people in, inspire them to spend longer in the space, to interact with others and to engage with elements within the space, and thus add to the vitality and vibrancy of the town.

The council initially commissioned Stainton Lighting Design Services Ltd (SLDS) in 2013 to undertake a critique of a lighting solution that had been submitted by a lighting manufacturer. It became quickly clear that the proposed solution was in essence a more modern version of the existing lighting scheme (but utilising white light High Intensity Discharge lamps), and with a large number of lighting units that was ‘at odds’ with the vision for a modern clutter-free public realm. It offered very little to the aesthetics of the built environment with no ability to create a differing experience to shoppers or visitors.

In addition to the original commission SLDS were asked to work with the council on creating a lighting master plan for the High Street project and also to provide a lighting feasibility study for the project which would eventually lead on to full lighting/electrical design for the complete High Street scheme.

When discussing the requirements and aspirations of the master plan it was clearly evident that the new lighting scheme should have the ability of creating differing user experiences via the use of colours and patterns and capture the spirit of the SIRF festival. The main key elements that were incorporated into the master plan were:

  • Light sources should be energy efficient with low maintenance with a desire to utilise LED technologies where it was appropriate.
  • Bespoke iconic masts that would complement the urban design with a modern look that paid a tribute to the town’s dockyard history.
  • Utilise consistent colour temperatures that would be sympathetic with the palette of proposed and existing materials.
  • Lighting should be located within specific zones designated for new street furniture equipment where possible.
  • Specific buildings/structures should have an additional lighting treatment including the Shambles indoor market, Town Hall, relocated Dodshan’s Fountain, Market Cross, and the proposed new Automaton. This treatment could also be extended to the large number of mature tree specimens as being proposed as part of the Public Realm scheme depending on the success of on-site trials.
  • The use of colour should be limited to the visual extremities of the scheme, or to specific structural elements, and should not be used ‘carte blanche’.
  • The mood of the lighting installation should have the ability of being changeable for different events and programmed by specific members of Stockton’s Events team.
  • Single control system to control both functional and feature lighting elements with the ability of being scalable in the future.

In addition to this, concepts for additional bespoke lighting installations were to be explored which could be implemented as part of the public realm scheme.