Decision soon on Britten sculpture

DECISION day for a proposed sculpture at Aldeburgh honouring composer Benjamin Britten is set for next week.Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee is due to look at the plans for a 3.

DECISION day for a proposed sculpture at Aldeburgh honouring composer Benjamin Britten is set for next week.

Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee is due to look at the plans for a 3.5 metre high metal sculpture in the shape of scallop shells at their meeting on Wednesday, July 23.

The plan is to site the structure – currently being created by artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling – on the beach near a public car park which lies to the north of the town.

Planners are recommending that the proposals are approved, subject to conditions and following confirmation from English Nature and the Environment Agency that the sculpture and its siting won't upset nature conservation or coastal processes there.


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English Nature is recommending that the work is sited further landward because of its concern about the movement of the beach and the potential effect the structure could have on the sensitive site, but supporters of the sculpture believe the issues they raise can be addressed without re-siting it.

The conservation body has "a holding objection" to the proposals because it says there is "currently insufficient information to conclude that the application will not cause significant damage to the Leiston-Aldeburgh SSSI".

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But the organisation adds that "subject to further examination of construction options and coastal processes issues", and provided certain conditions are met "the application could be compatible with furthering and conservation of the SSSI".

The beach at Aldeburgh is nationally important and supports various types of plant life, such as the sea pea, sea kale, dittander and clustered clover.

English Nature raises several concerns about the erection of the sculpture within the SSSI.

It warns of the potential for damage during the construction, and the possible impact a fixed structure there might have on coastal processes.

It also highlights the mobility of the site, which it points out could make it difficult or impossible to secure the sculpture, and recommends that it is located further landward in a less active part of the beach.

"The proposed location is one the seaward of the two shingle ridges," it points out. "This is the most active, mobile part of the beach, and it may be difficult or impossible to secure the sculpture in this position. In any event, it may require more damaging, more extensive excavations in order to attempt to secure the sculpture here."

The Environment Agency's comments are due to be reported at the meeting.

There is one letter of objection to the proposals, and five in support.

Planners say the structure is "in a form which seeks to interpret the character of this part of the coast in a positive way to enhance the experience for visitors and those living in the AONB".

The applicants are involved in talks with English Nature and the Environment Agency over English Nature's concerns.

The Environment Agency is assessing proposed foundations for the sculpture to see whether there would be any adverse effect on coastal processes.

English Nature is also asking for appropriate signage informing visitors of the importance and sensitivity of the site.

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