Queen to receive bizarre tribute after aristocrat wins appeal

The Elizabeth Landmark: Viscount Devonport explains monument

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Viscount Devonport was refused planning permission for a £3 million steel sculpture which has been described by some as a ‘giant toothpick’ on private land in 2019, designed to honour Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The Planning Inspectorate has now ruled the aristocrat can construct the 55-metre tribute to Her Majesty, after he won an appeal against staunchly opposed locals.

The project was originally approved by council officers but was then rejected by the planning committee for the area.

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “Planning Inspectorate decisions are outside of our control, but councillors and the local residents’ group clearly set out their case as to why they felt the appeal should be dismissed and put this across as robustly as possible.”

Named Ascendant: The Elizabeth Landmark, Viscount Devonport planned to build the structure on the Ray Estate in rural Northumberland.

It was intended to honour Her Majesty and “her anchoring of the Commonwealth around shared values of tolerance, respect and understanding”.

In 2019, when the project first hit stumbling blocks, Viscount Devonport reiterated: “I have a great admiration for Queen Elizabeth II.

“She is the longest-serving monarch, she has navigated the Royal Family and The Commonwealth through enormous change and times of great uncertainty.

“She personally moved The Commonwealth into a free, equal and voluntary group of member states united by language, history, and culture.

Reacting to the news on Tuesday, Viscount Devonport said: “I am delighted that the Planning Inspector has supported our project and that the committee’s refusal in 2019 has been overturned.”

In a statement, the viscount said that the structure will have a “minimal impact on the natural environment”.

He added: “It is our ambition to create a sculpture that is not only celebratory of Queen Elizabeth II and The Commonwealth, but which is also a magnificent piece of artwork that acts as a beacon for visitors and tourists to the region.”

It has been compared to a sundial, in that it would be decorated to denote sunrise and sunset on the Queen’s birthday, which is 21 April.

The structure will be surrounded by a walking trail, whose design will feature input from creatives hailing from across the Commonwealth.

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Northumberland County Council refused the application in March 2019, sparking a public inquiry which has determined the structure, designed by artist Simon Hitchens, will go ahead.

Plans for the structure faced a backlash from local residents, who denounced the structure as a “blot on the landscape” which looked like a “toothpick.”

Keep the Wannies Wild, formed by dissenting locals, lists about 2,000 members, and claimed in appeal documents that the tribute “would introduce an eye-catching but alien feature into a cherished landscape.”

They added that it would “destroy the sense of tranquillity, remoteness and openness that residents and visitors currently value”.

They claimed that there was “no evidence” of tourism benefits, continuing on to say: “The domination of the shared countryside for one man’s personal satisfaction is just not acceptable.”

They stated that the size of the structure – which is three times the height of the Angel of the North, according to the Evening Standard – did not fit the rural aesthetic of the area.

The artist behind the design, Simon Hitchens, remained firm on the project’s benefits for the landscape and nearby residents.

He said: “We still have a long road ahead of us to bring this contemporary sculpture to fruition, yet I am certain that when completed it will be a significant addition to the natural and cultural landscape of Northumberland.”

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