Elizabeth Landmark: Opposition growing as 180ft Northumberland sculpture due for approval

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A protest group formed three weeks ago to oppose a 180-foot sculpture on a Northumberland hilltop has already attracted more than 500 members.

As previously reported, plans for a monument on the summit of Cold Law, north of the C195 road in the west of the county, went before the local authority’s strategic planning committee last month.

To be known as the Elizabeth Landmark and commissioned to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth, the application was recommended for approval by planning officers.

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Their view was that the ‘wider public benefits of a major new landmark public art feature’ and the tourism opportunities outweighed any negatives, but a number of objections were raised by residents and the ward member, Coun John Riddle, at the June 4 meeting.

The Elizabeth LandmarkThe Elizabeth Landmark
The Elizabeth Landmark

Committee members agreed to defer the decision for a site visit, after an initial motion to approve the scheme was voted down, and the bid is back before the planning committee on July 2; the recommendation for approval remains.

However, since the first meeting, a Facebook group called Keep the Wannies Wild, formed to bring together those who oppose the £1million, 56-metre structure – the brainchild of Lord Devonport – has attracted hundreds of members.

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One of the founder members, award-winning artist Mary Ann Rogers, who lives and works at West Woodburn, said: “I felt strongly that this particular piece was entirely wrong for this location.

Cold Law.Cold Law.
Cold Law.

“It soon became clear that most people locally had no idea of the proposal, and of the few that did, little understanding of the scale of the artwork.”

However, the scheme has been well covered by local media with the idea for the landmark first revealed last May, before the design – Ascendant, by Simon Hitchens – was selected from a choice of three last August. A planning application was submitted towards the start of this year.

The group’s Emma Anderson said: “Keep the Wannies Wild will represent the views of all the objectors at County Hall, Morpeth, on Tuesday when the county council’s strategic planning committee meets to consider the application for a second time.

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“We will continue to do all we can to oppose this misguided proposal.”

Ms Rogers added: “We hope a good turnout will reinforce the depth of feeling against this proposal that exists in the community.”

At the last meeting, one of the applicant’s representatives, who worked on other public art features such as the Angel of the North, The Couple at Newbiggin and Northumberlandia, said: “All of these projects cause concern, but we have to do things that are different and that are inspiring.”

He reminded the meeting of the unpopularity of the Angel at first and how it has become a national landmark.