£48 000 on footlights


The cost of Central Hall's new lighting revealed

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Image by Luke Snell

By Luke Brown

A Nouse Freedom of Information request has revealed that the University spent £48,942 on 46 new footlights around Central Hall.

The footlights, which the University told Nouse are “high efficiency LED external lights”, are programmed to shift between colours and lighting levels.

The University said that this meant that it could not give an exact electricity consumption figure, but gave an estimate of 1,853kWh per year on the assumption that the footlights operated at 50 percent capacity for 50 percent of the time.

Central Hall’s new footlights could use a similar annual amount if the University’s 50 percent assumption is too conservative.

Maeve Glenn, a third-year Law student, said that “it’s not the electricity use, but rather the massive cost that angers me with these new footlights.

“However, the University shouldn’t have bought the lights in the first place. The money could have been spent on sustainability projects or mental health services.”

The footlights are the latest in a series of refurbishment works on Central Hall.

Increasing accessibility and replacing outdated electrical and mechanical systems are also on the refurbishment agenda. Commencing in January 2019, these works have included replacing the auditorium seating and installing air conditioning.

Central Hall was built between 1966 and 1968, and Historic England awarded it a Grade II-listed status in 2018.

Much to the dismay of many York students, graduation takes place in Central Hall rather than York Minster (which is instead reserved for York St John students).

In 2014, the Independent on Sunday named Central Hall one of the UK’s “ugliest buildings”.

The York Tab also included Central Hall in a list of the “ugliest buildings on campus”, although it was spared the top spot which instead went jointly to James N Block and Derwent College.

The University hopes that its latest renovation project will enhance the status of Central Hall on campus.

A University of York spokesperson said: “We wanted to ensure that Central Hall was seen as a true landmark building worthy of its position at the centre of campus.

“The Hall is home to many internal and external events, and as such needs to appeal to a wide-range of audiences.

“Footlights help link the internal and external spaces of the buildings and offer a fitting view of the Hall from across the lake.”

The spokesperson added that “the chosen equipment is high quality, ensuring a long trouble-free life, utilising multi-colour LED technology to be as energy efficient as possible."

“There is an extensive underground installation, allowing for expansion of lighting," they said. "The associated controls enable special effects to be created for events if required."