High-profile sculpture trail touring UK triggers objections from locals in Holywood, Co Down

A high-profile sculpture trail traversing Britain faces opposition from locals in Holywood, Co. Down.

The Our Place in Space sculpture trail, currently in England, was approved by elected members at the recent Ards and North Down Council Planning Committee meeting, despite opposition from local residents.

The presence of the hiking trail in the planning committee was triggered by six letters of objection from the public.

The proposal includes six sculptural artworks of the sun and planets, a new footpath and coastal path access and associated works – all on the site of the Ulster Transport Museum, Bangor Road, Holywood. None of the legal advisors disagreed with the plan.

Several neighbors complained of safety issues caused by the new coastal path access gate which would be located next to a bottleneck on the single file portion of Seafront Road. Local residents said this would exacerbate serious visitor parking problems on Seafront Road and Glen Road.

Neighbors state that removing trees near the border would result in a loss of privacy and “quiet enjoyment of their existing private leisure space”. Some have highlighted the impact the plans will have on local biodiversity, particularly pine marten and other species.

One local resident stressed that while the museum’s indoor attractions are subject to opening and closing times, the path is not, while another local resident questioned how development would be maintained going forward in terms of safety, crowd control, anti-social behavior, bedding and general care.

A collaboration between Northern Irish artist, illustrator and writer Oliver Jeffers, the Nerve Center in Derry, the NI Science Festival, the National Museums NI and others resulted in the commissioning of the epic Solar System sculpture, which currently resides in Cambridge, England. The trail previously ran in Derry and Belfast and is due to head to North Down in the autumn.

Our Place in Space is part of the Unlocked scheme which is being funded by the Government in 2022 to celebrate innovation and creativity across the UK. The Festival UK 2022 website states that the project “comprises 10 groundbreaking commissions aimed at reaching millions, bringing people together and showcasing British creativity worldwide.”

The planning report by Ards and North Down council officials recommended the plan to the elected officials.

It states: “The proposed sculptures will provide a better visitor experience with potential for additional revenue, thereby helping to preserve this existing regional tourism attraction. Since the sculptures are connected to the culture and learning experience associated with the existing museum, I am satisfied that the principle of development is acceptable.”

The report states that the coastal path falls outside the bounds of the application and therefore the Council “cannot comment on existing pedestrian safety issues”. It adds that the proposed route would join an existing coastal path, accessible only by foot, and as such “should not pose any pedestrian safety issues”.

The report adds: “It is anticipated that most visitors will use the museum parking provided and only residents/visitors wishing to walk along the coastal path will park in the surrounding residential area. The council would not require a traffic impact assessment as the proposal involves the placement of six sculptures on the site of an existing museum.”

The official adds: “As shown in the proposed site plan, a mature boundary will be retained, with additional planting planned around the pathways and sculptures. The sculptures are over 20 meters from the apartments along Dachoolin so I don’t think there will be a loss of privacy.”

The official confirmed that the access gate will be closed at the museum’s closing time. The councilors voted unanimously in favor of the sculpture trail. High-profile sculpture trail touring UK triggers objections from locals in Holywood, Co Down

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