A revised plan to erect a civic flagpole in Alnwick’s Column Field has sparked objections – two years after a previous bid was withdrawn because of concerns.
Alnwick Town Council is behind the scheme for the seven-metre-high white aluminium pole, which would be placed adjacent to the war memorial and used for key events.
The proposed location is on the flat area of grass to the lower part of Column Field, near to the B1340 Denwick road, and the pole would be no higher than the nearby war memorial.
The latest bid is a revised version of the scheme drawn up by the town council in 2016.
The previous plan located the pole at the back of the circular raised flowerbed in Column Field, but was withdrawn following objections.
It was hoped that the revised application would allay some of the concerns, but a number of negative comments have been left on the county council’s planning portal.
One objector states: ‘To place a seven metre harsh vertical of white aluminium among the greens and the magnificent mature trees would be a visual nightmare’, while another believes that flags would be distracting to drivers at the busy war-memorial junction.
Another says that the scheme ‘flies in opposition to what makes Alnwick great’ and ‘the town has seen two World Wars and many conflicts without a flagpole, I’m sure it can continue to do so’.
One objector, who did not want to be named, claims she has collected more than 100 signatures in petition against the scheme.
She said that the flagpole would be ‘an unsightly visual intrusion to what is one of the most beautiful historical areas of Alnwick’ and putting this structure at the Column Field would be ‘akin to graffiti’.
She believes it will diminish the impact of the war memorial and criticised the fact that the pole would be used to fly various types of flags, adding: ‘Flags other than the Union flag flying so close to the memorial are an insult to the memory of the dead’.
However, the scheme has also attracted letters of support.
One of those in favour said that Alnwick is one of the few towns that has not got a civic pole for major events and celebrations, while another described it as an excellent idea which is long overdue.
Another supporter wrote: ‘I believe a flagpole would be an appropriate feature to allow serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and civic groups to show their respect for the fallen and commemorate important dates on the calendar’.
An additional letter states: ‘The raising and lowering of the flag is an intrinsic part of the Remembrance service. The proposed position in Column Field, near to the town’s war memorial, is the ideal site’.
A design and access statement, submitted with the application, says: ‘Having taken comments on the previous application into account, the new proposed location of the flagpole within Column Field is to ensure that it has less impact within the overall site and does not significantly impede views of the Tenantry Column’.
It adds that Alnwick does not have a permanent flagpole (the one on the Northumberland Hall is no longer accessible and the one at Alnwick Castle ‘gives less public access’) and placing it in the Column Field, close to the war memorial, would enhance the town’s Remembrance parade and other commemorations and events in the town, such as twin-town visits.
If approved, the intention is to raise the Union flag for the first time to commemorate the beginning of Armed Forces Day on June 25 this year.
The design and access statement adds that local groups, including the Western Front Association and Royal British Legion, are in favour.