Tuesday, 01 September 2015

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Plans submitted for Star of Caledonia statue on England-Scotland border

Plans have been lodged to build a “world class” £4.5 million artistic landmark on the England-Scotland border.

Gretna landmark design graphic
The Star of Caledonia by Cecil Balmond

Related: £1m pledge towards Star of Caledonia statue

Proposals to create the 40-metre high Star of Caledonia, designed by internationally-renowned artist Cecil Balmond, have been several years in the making.

Supporters hope its success will mirror that of the Angel of the North in Gateshead and prove lucrative for the economy of the borderlands.

The structure, to be build on land off the M74 at Gretna, has taken a significant step towards reality through a planning application lodged with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Plans have been developed by the Gretna Landmark Trust. Documents submitted on its behalf state the aim of the design is to be “visually spectacular but also meaningful, relating strongly to place and identity”.

They add: “It has always been the ambition of the community and project team to create a landmark of international quality design, which will highlight the main gateway into Scotland. In turn, this will help promote local business and tourism.”

Figures in Cumbria’s tourism industry have already spoken of their hope that they could feel the ripple effects of a landmark piece of artwork on the border.

Among those consulted on the plans in north Cumbria include Kirkandrews-on-Esk parish, Carlisle City and Cumbria County councils, as well as the Highways Agency.

An initial response from the city council has called for the potential impact of drivers being distracted to be considered, but adds: “It is nevertheless recognised that this is a stunning landmark project and the innovative design and use of materials will make this a distinctive entry/exit focal point for Scotland.”

Roads bosses at Cumbria County Council have no objections to the plans.

Members of Kirkandrews on Esk parish council have, however, voiced concerns about the cash involved in the scheme. In a response published as part of documents supporting the planning application, clerk to the council Ken Hind said people thought £4.5m was a “ridiculously high” amount of money to spend.

He added: “It is felt the landmark is not a priority at present, especially when money does not seem to be available for local projects such as draining the football pitch and play area.”

The Star of Caledonia will be made of galvanised stainless steel – illuminated at night with “subtle lighting” at its tips – and be sited in a field on the border, on the opposite side of the motorway to Gretna Gateway Outlet Village.

A route to it already exists through a public right of way from both Gretna and Springfield. There will be no parking at the landmark site direct, but agreements have been struck for visitors to be able to park at the shopping complex and at tourist attractions in Gretna Green.

Themes that feature in the design include “energy, the inventiveness of the Scottish people, water and the river of identity running deep”.

Plans for the artwork went on public display in June. Arts organisation Creative Scotland has pledged £1m towards the project. The planning application states: “The Star of Caledonia is a unique opportunity to mark the exceptional distinctiveness of the region.”

The landmark trust behind the vision is chaired by border businessman Alasdair Houston, whose family-run firm owns Smiths Hotel and the World Famous Blacksmith’s Shop complex at Gretna Green. The structure would be built on land owned by him. The project director is Dumfriesshire-based artist Jan Hogarth.



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