A1 upgrades will have 'heartbreaking' effect on views of Angel of the North, says Gormley

Figcaption A Upgrades Will Have Heartbreaking Effect On Views Of Angel Of The North Says Gormley
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

Sir Antony Gormley has said he fears that planned improvements to the A1 south of Gateshead will have a “heartbreaking” impact on views of his sculpture the Angel of the North.

A planning report concluded that there would be a “worsening” of the view from the northbound carriageway, although Highways England said steps were being taken to mitigate the impact.

The improvements are part of a £250m scheme to ease congestion on the A1 south of Gateshead by widening a four-mile-stretch to four lanes on the southbound carriageway and three lanes on the northbound. The scheme was last week granted development consent by the secretary of state for Transport, a decision that Highways England described as “a major step forward”.

Gormley made multiple written submissions to the improvement scheme stating that the Angel of the North would need to remain “100% visible” to retain its significance and that he would support “the most pragmatic and least visually impactful design” for the scheme.

Highways England expects confirmation of the scheme’s final design by late spring 2021.

In a letter dated January 2020, the Turner prize winner said: “It would be heartbreaking to lose sight of the Angel of the North on the approach from the A1, and thus I am desperate to do all I can to protect these views.”

He added that the proposed gantries were “perhaps most worrying”, with some spanning “1.5 times the width of the Angel of the North”.

In a subsequent letter, dated July 2020, Gormley suggested using open truss designs or lighter gantries in order to lessen the visual impact. “We must interrogate the process for the justification of the number and location of these gantries and ask how closely the scheme has been designed to respond to the local environment,” he said.

A Highways England spokesperson said the agency would continue to engage with “all interested parties” as to the precise location of the gantries. In his submission Gormley suggested seven locations from which he wanted the 20-foot sculpture to remain fully visible.

“Our approach throughout the development of the scheme is to minimise the effect on the landscape and to mitigate any impact, particularly around the Angel of the North,” said the Highways England spokesperson.

Commenting on the news that visibility of the Angel of the North would be temporarily reduced, the MP for Gateshead, Ian Mearns, said: “The Angel of the North is of vital importance for Gateshead not only in terms of its visual impact but also in terms of what it led to in investment and publicity. It’s truly iconic.”

Mearns said he would work with other MPs and the local council to ensure the road development did not “hinder accessibility”.

A spokesperson for Gateshead council said: “I understand there was some concern voiced about the scale and positioning of gantries across the A1, and Highways England agreed to look at that.

“We understand the design of those gantries is still under consideration by Highways England, but they have said they want to ensure that any potential visual impacts on the Angel are taken onboard. We currently await their further plans.”

Gormley declined a request to comment.

Ultimele News