Statue decision put back

PROTESTERS opposed to plans to build a giant statue of a Saxon warrior overlooking a river estuary were celebrating last night after winning the first round of their battle.

PROTESTERS opposed to plans to build a giant statue of a Saxon warrior overlooking a river estuary were celebrating last night after winning the first round of their battle.

Maldon Culture Company wants to erect a monument to commemorate the ill-fated Battle of Maldon in 991AD near the end of the Maldon promenade extension, on the banks of the River Blackwater.

The bronze statue of Brytnoth holding a sword above his head would stand 6.4 metres high, including a 2.5 metre plinth, cutting an imposing figure in the flat Essex marshland landscape.

Last night Maldon District Council's planning and licensing committee discussed a planning application to install the monument 22.5 metres away from the end of the promenade extension.


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Over 40 people opposed to the plans protested with banners and placards outside the meeting and debated with the sculptor who has made it, John Doubleday, of Great Totham.

Planning officers had recommended the application should be given consent. Maldon Culture Company already has permission to build the statue at the end of the promenade extension, but that consent runs out at the end of July. Another application to put the statue 22.5 metres from the end, but with a more elaborate plinth, was refused last year.

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Councillors last night voted to defer the application to allow them more time to consider it, to go on a site visit and to allow more consultation.

Rodney Bass called for the plans to be deferred to allow the council to make a more considered opinion.

Other members wanted to refuse the application, which received 304 letters of objection and seven of support. Brian Beale said: "It's sad that we don't put statues up for heroes that win but we try to put statues up for losers."

He added: "It's on the wrong site. It should be closer to the Battle of Maldon. People will say 'Who's that?'"

Brian Harker said the monument should be refused planning permission, describing it as "an alien feature within the locality".

After the meeting, one of the protesters, Michael Taylor, urged members of the public to voice their opposition. "If they are worried about this they should write to the council and let them know how they feel. Effectively the council have given us the chance to tell them what they think."

He said he was not opposed to the monument, but it should be put elsewhere, perhaps in the Promenade Park.

"The promenade extension is a place of exceptional natural beauty and tranquility and a uniquely important amenity for the people of Maldon district and our visitors.

"We are convinced that a military monument, the height of a house, will destroy the qualities which make it so valuable to us all," he said.

Mr Doubleday said he was pleased with the council's decision. Commenting on the protesters, he said: "I think it's very encouraging people are prepared to take an interest in cultural matters."

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