Plans have been submitted to the county council for the construction of a publicly-accessible landmark, commissioned to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth, on the summit of Cold Law, a hillside near Kirkwhelpington.
It will provide a new cultural tourism destination, with a viewing area, small car park and pathways accessible to walkers and cyclists as well as motorists.
The aim is to benefit the local community and economy, by bringing new visitors to the area and helping to sustain existing facilities and services.
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Known as the Elizabeth Landmark, the idea for the £1million, 56-metre structure was first revealed last May by Lord Devonport, or Terence Kearley, 3rd Viscount Devonport, a philanthropist and retired architect who regenerated the Ray estate.
Three artists had been commissioned to produce proposals and in August, it was announced that Ascendant, by Simon Hitchens, had been chosen as the design after impressing both the selection panel and the public.
Now, the planning application has been lodged with Northumberland County Council, for what would be ‘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’.
It would be made of a steel which weathers to a rich orange/red finish, the planning statement explains, and supported on a simple reinforced concrete beam spanning the rock slot in the hilltop.
The viewing area would be oval-shaped, with a stone bench and a sheltered space provided beneath the hillside overhang, and the focus being a bronze map on a stone plinth, giving information about the landscape and history of the surroundings.
There will be steel inserts in the stone floor denoting the Commonwealth flag as well as direction and distance markers to all of the Commonwealth member-state capitals.
A small, informal car park at the foot of the hill would provide 17 spaces for cars, including two accessible bays, and one coach space, as well as seating, bins and bike storage.
In addition, 11 temporary overspill spaces would be provided on the looping access road, with the site off the C195, a single-track road that runs east from Knowesgate to Ridsdale on the A68.
Visitors would walk on a curving pathway (graded for accessibility) from the car park, which would feature works relating to the history and heritage of the area produced by a community writing programme as well as by poets from around the Commonwealth.
This path would lead through the slot in the top of the hill and via an archway in the base of the landmark to the viewing area.
There would be no toilets, visitor centre or amenities and signage would be used to direct visitors to facilities, including pubs and shops, in Ridsdale, West Woodburn, Sweet Hope Loughs, Knowesgate and Kirkwhelpington.
The planning statement concludes: ‘The proposed landmark will provide an innovative new cultural tourism focus in an under-visited area of Northumberland and so assist with sustaining existing local facilities and services in local settlements.
‘It will provide local employment directly (during stone excavation for the construction) as well as regional employment (during steel fabrication and erection).’
By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service