Due to the architecture in the town, Hastings features many buildings that include basement light wells. These are most often seen where access can be gained to a basement flat at the front of large Victorian buildings.
If the area around these drops is not well guarded, they can pose a serious health and safety risk, especially to those using the main entrance to the building above. A fall from ground floor level into one of these basements can often be as far as 2.5m to 3m on to concrete. This can result in serious injury.
There have been a number of accidents like this in recent years. There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of these.
Light wells are traditionally enclosed by railings to prevent anyone falling into them. If you own a building that does not currently include railings, it is important that you look to have them installed. It is also important that any existing railings that show signs of damage (such as missing spindles, or weakness that may cause them to break when fallen against) are repaired.
The precise measurements and requirements for railings may vary from one property to the next. The railings should be designed to discourage young children from climbing on them, meaning spindles should always be installed vertically rather than horizontally. It is also important that you consult our planning department to find what your requirements are.
Light wells are often found in Listed Buildings, or older buildings in conservation areas. You are permitted to carry out like for like repairs to railings without obtaining planning permission. However, if you wish to replace the railings (or your repair is not like for like) you will need to apply for planning permission (and listed building consent if your property is listed). You can find out whether your property falls under these categories by visiting the following links:
If the railings are in such a poor state of repair that there are immediate and serious consequences regarding health and safety, you may carry out temporary works to secure the railings, provided you:
- Notify the Planning Authority of your intention to do so and provide a date to show when the full repair of the railings will take place. Please include photos of the existing railings and their condition with your notification
- Apply for planning permission for changes to the existing railings within two weeks of the works
- Apply for listed building consent if your property is listed.
If you are applying for permission for changes to your railings, the application will be assessed having regard to what the traditional railing design of the building is. We would expect applications for any changes to have regard for this. Significant departure from the design is unlikely to be supported. If you have any queries about permissions, please contact Planning@hastings.gov.uk
If you are a tenant living in a building where you notice missing or defective railings, then you should report this to your managing agent/landlord in the first instance.
- Report an empty home
- I need landlord advice
- HMO enquiries
- Report housing disrepair
- Report nuisance from another property
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