Objectors respond as appeal lodged over 180-foot Elizabeth Landmark plans

Opponents of plans for a 180-foot artwork in the Northumberland hills have underlined their objections after the applicants launched an appeal.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 6:46 pm
An artist’s impression of the proposed Elizabeth Landmark.

As previously reported, the Elizabeth Landmark was rejected by 13 votes to three at last July’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee, but an appeal was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate last week.

The application, for the 56-metre steel sculpture on the summit of Cold Law, west of Kirkwhelpington, had been recommended for approval by planning officers, but following a site visit, a majority of councillors felt it was an inappropriate location for a structure of this kind.

The idea for the monument, a tribute to the Queen and the Commonwealth, was first revealed in May 2018 by the owner of the Ray estate, Lord Devonport, with the design – Ascendant, by Simon Hitchens – selected from a choice of three that August.

Keep the Wannies Wild, a protest group which fought the proposals last summer, has more than doubled its membership in the last week since the appeal was revealed.

Speaking for the group, Anne Palmer said: “Our 1,400-plus members include writers, poets, musicians, artists, naturalists, climbers, walkers, cyclists, farmers, birdwatchers and, not least, locals, who feel very strongly that our Wannies must be protected from the environmental harm and aesthetic damage this outrageous proposal will cause.

“Our members do not oppose the Queen; we feel Her Majesty would share our view that this is simply the wrong thing in the wrong place.”

Ascendant is 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 aim is to provide a new cultural tourism destination, with a viewing area, small car park and pathways accessible to walkers and cyclists as well as motorists.

There would be no toilets, visitor centre or amenities, but signage would direct visitors to facilities, including pubs and shops, in Ridsdale, West Woodburn, Sweet Hope Loughs, Knowesgate and Kirkwhelpington.

The team behind the proposed landmark believe it ‘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’.

But Anne added: “I think it is important that members of the public are made aware of the strength of opposition to the proposal.

“Keep the Wannies Wild was formed not only to resist the proposal, but to draw attention to the very special nature of this stretch of Northumberland upland. It is important that we reflect what people who live here think.

“This project, despite claims to the contrary, will not benefit us; Northumberland County Council made a very clear determination about the merits of the proposal when it turned down the planning application.

“The Wannies has a mythical reputation in Northumberland and beyond, and is loved for its wild, unspoilt and remote feeling. We aim to maintain that.”