A call-out for artists to submit their innovative designs for a seafront lighting scheme is set to go ahead.

A design brief and timetable for a new lighting scheme on the Esplanade has been published – and it is hoped everything will be completed for a big switch on in March 2019.

The design brief is open to artistic interpretation but states that the scheme will need to provide ‘a welcoming and ambient atmosphere for evening strollers, improve views towards Weymouth Bay and enhance the night-time image of the town and seafront’.

A move towards a new lighting scheme came after it was revealed that the lasers, which were installed with funding from Arts Council England, will reach ‘the end of their operating life’ within the next five years and that it will cost between £73,000 and £85,000 to replace the lighting units.

A public consultation was carried out earlier this year, with some of those airing their views saying they would like to see the fairy lights return.

The design brief does not specify what kind of lighting scheme councillors would like to see, although the lights should be ‘vandal-proof, lightweight, fit-for-purpose, low-energy, durable and robust’.

If approved by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee on Tuesday, artists will be invited to submit their proposals.

A shortlist of three will be drawn up early next year, with £1,000 to be given to those who make the shortlist for a full design and research time.
The selected artist will be pair a maximum design fee of £21,500, including expenses but not VAT, with a budget of up to £150,000 for the fabrication and installation of the design.

It’s envisaged that the community will be involved throughout the process, with an exhibition of options and community feedback events.

The management committee is expected to sign off on the final design by June next year, with installation taking place, subject to planning permission, in mid-January and early February 2019.

Funding for the entire project is through the Dorset Coast Forum, which secured a major grant from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, and allocated £200,000 for the Weymouth Esplanade Lighting Project.

The committee will meet to discuss the report at the borough council offices on Commercial Road on Tuesday.