Planning Refusal a Setback for Environmetal Art

The planning committee for Northumberland County Council have sadly rejected proposals for a tribute to the Commonwealth and Elizabeth II, named the Elizabeth Landmark.  The impressive sculpture was planned for the summit of Cold Law, west of Kirkwhelpington, however was defeated by a vote of 13 to 3 despite having been recommended for approval previously. 

An artist's impression of how the Elizabeth Landmark would look. (Image: Simon Hitchens)

The idea for the monument was revealed last May by Lord Devonport, owner of the Ray estate.  The design – Ascendant, by Simon Hitchens – was selected from a choice of three last August.  It has been described as ‘a thin slice cut north to south through the uppermost bedrock of Cold Law, tilted and elevated at the north end so that it points to the sun at its zenith on Midsummer’s Day’.

The inspiration for the landmark was to provide a new cultural tourism destination, with a small car park, pathways and viewing area accessible to walkers, cyclists and motorists.  There would be no toilets, amenities or visitor centre, but signs would direct visitors to facilities, including local shops and pubs, in Kirkwhelpington, West Woodburn, Sweet Hope Loughs, Ridsdale and Knowesgate.  Representatives of the sculpture have constantly raised a number of points about how the landmark would provide a link between other destinations, benefit tourism for the area, will not affect the openness of the landscape, and how other much-loved public artworks in the region – like the Angel of the North – were unpopular when first proposed.  We are saddened by the decision to refuse plans for the monumental sculpture and believe that the economic, as well as cultural impact it would have on the local area, have clearly been underestimated by the Northumberland County Council strategic planning committee.

“We believe that Ascendant: The Elizabeth Landmark will be a valuable asset to local communities and the North East of England, bringing national and international interest, economic prosperity through tourism and situates the site of the landmark as a cultural destination.  We have worked extensively to ensure the landmark has minimal impact on the flora, fauna and wildlife of the proposed location and after taking recommendations from Northumberland County Council officers and an independent assessor, we are hopeful that the project will be approved through the National Planning Inspectorate and we will be lodging an appeal during the summer.”

– Applicants for the Elizabeth Landmark

The role that art can play in the regeneration of towns and cities is now recognised worldwide.  By engaging with people, art can help to foster local identity and a ‘sense of place’, it can create links between diverse interests, and inspire learning, inquisitiveness and discovery.  Art itself is regenerative, one way in which culture, in its diversity, re-invents itself.  We believe that meeting the cultural needs of the community is an essential part of overall community well-being, the delivery of public services and healthy economic growth to create sustainable communities. Art encourages innovation and creativity across the regeneration agenda.  As such, we hope that planning permission for the Elizabeth Landmark can be approved and stress that it would bring great cultural and economic interest towards the surrounding local area.

The concept design by Simon Hitchens.

At ethical partnership we offer a comprehensive range of ecology and landscape services to both public and private sector clients to enable them to design developments and other schemes that are sensitive to the needs of wildlife, landscape and habitats. We help our clients protect and conserve local and global environmental resources, have been successful in securing standard and bespoke environmental permits and have an excellent working relationship with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

To find out more about the work we do and why we are so passionate about the Elizabeth Landmark you can read about our values here.  You can also keep up to date with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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