New pub lights 'spoiling' dark skies in scenic Broads' village

The Swan Inn at Horning originated as a cottage in 1696 Photo: Bill Smith

The Swan Inn in Horning has responded to residents' concerns over lights put up outside the hotel and restaurant. - Credit: Archant © 2008

Two lights put up to illuminate a pub car park in a scenic village are spoiling it, residents say.

The Swan Inn at Horning said it installed the lighting for safety reasons, but admits it was "a genuine human error."

Controversy over new lights at the Swan Inn, Horning, Norfolk Broads

New lights outside the Swan Inn in Horning which have been put up for safety reasons. - Credit: Jane Bowden

Residents say the village is a designated "dark zone" with not a single street light, a status that helps protect the skies above.

Jane Bowden, who has lived in Horning for seven years, said low lighting was crucial to its character.

The riverside village of Horning on the River Bure in Norfolk.Picture: James Bass

Residents in Horning have said the scenic Broads' village's "dark zone" status has been threatened by new lights at the historic Swan Inn hotel and restaurant. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

"These lights are so bright they stop us seeing out across the water," she said, adding they also spoiled views of starry skies.

"Most of us who live in Horning appreciate the fact that it is a dark zone and it's different.

"Horning is special and Horning is different. That is part of the reason that people are attracted here."

Controversy over new lights outside the Swan Inn, Horning, Norfolk Broads

Residents of Horning have taken a dim view of controversial lights put up outside The Swan Inn. - Credit: Jane Bowden

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Posting on Facebook, Ashley Bovington, assistant manager at the Swan Inn, said "distressed" staff had been approached by villagers looking to "air their concerns".

He apologised for any upset and invited residents to speak to management. 

The post said: "We thought due to some accidents that have happened in the car park because of the lighting, or the lack thereof, and staff members feeling uncomfortable walking to their cars in the dark that this was a health and safety issue.

Boats on the River Bure near Horning. Picture: James Bass

Horning is a popular boating hub. The pretty village is an official 'dark zone' - a status that helps to protect the skies above it and its rural charm. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

"We flagged this up with our head office and unfortunately, whoever was dealing with the situation had made a genuine human error and didn’t receive the permission that was required.

"Unfortunately working for such a big company mistakes can be made and that is simply what has happened here. But, since then all work has stopped."

Responding to the post some people said they never felt afraid walking around at night and that staff should use torches.

Controversy over new lights at the Swan Inn, Horning, Norfolk Broads

New light poles outside the Swan Inn in Horning are drawing concerns among residents who value their dark skies. - Credit: Jane Bowden

Others said they were happy with feedback from the management, wishing them all the best.

Parish council chairman Ian Davis said: "It [the lights] went up without our knowledge and was then stopped by our district councillor. As far as we are concerned it is on hold and my understanding is that planning needs to be applied for."

The Swan Inn is part of the Mitchells and Butlers group under its Vintage Inns brand. The group also includes the Harvester, Toby Carvery, and All Bar One brands.

The pub has been approached for further comment.