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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Lyme Regis lamps ignite passions
Lyme Regis
Residents want the town to retain its charms
Best-selling author John Fowles has joined a protest over plans to introduce new street lamps in the Dorset town Lyme Regis.

The town's famous sea-front was immortalised in the star-studded film of Mr Fowles' novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman.

But now a 50,000 plan to replace the 15 single street lights along the elegant Marine Parade with double aluminium lamps has caused consternation.

Residents and local businesses who oppose the scheme say the lights will ruin the atmosphere along the front.

Night Sky

The Lyme Regis sea-front - with its famous Cobb harbour - was where Meryl Streep's heroine in the film stood looking out to sea.

That area of the coast is now part of a World Heritage Site, renowned for its geological and fossil finds.

But in a letter to the county council, Mr Fowles describes the plan to introduce new street lamps along the front as "madness".

We will design these lamps in such a way that they will be no brighter than the existing street lamps

Dorset County Council
"People from around the world come to visit Lyme Regis and the sunset, stars and moon reflecting on the water are part of the environment they and local people like," he wrote.

Another opponent of the plan is Judy Simmonds, who runs the sea-front Bay Hotel.

She says she is concerned over the style of the lampposts and the increase of illumination along the front.

"They are suburban. When you walk along the seafront, you are privileged not to have traffic. All you can hear is footsteps and the noise of the waves.

"The lampposts there should have the sculptural presence this setting deserves. These new ones are completely wrong."

Heritage site

But officials said further consultation about the scheme would be taking place.

Mike Lewis, clerk to the town council, said the existing lamps needed to be removed.

"We are within a world heritage site and it's a world renowned sea front.

"We do need a lighting scheme that's effective and sufficient and at the moment it's very patchy."

Daragh Croxson, spokesman for Dorset County Council, said the designers would make sure the lights were suitable.

"We will design these lamps in such a way that they will be no brighter than the existing street lamps."

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

16 Mar 02 | England
Coast braced for Jurassic tourists
13 Dec 01 | England
Jurassic coast is world wonder
07 Oct 00 | UK
Britain's golden riviera
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