A sculpture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s head profile made from crystals and set within a glass panel measuring 5.6 metres tall by 3 metres wide has been refused a second temporary permission.
Planning permission had previously been granted for the sculpture to be displayed for a period of six months, in a prominent central London location, but this period had expired. At appeal (DCS Number 400-027-483), permission was sought for the sculpture to be displayed until December 2022, which would be until after the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
The inspector identified the main issue as being the effect on the character and appearance of the Royal Parks conservation area, the setting of nearby nationally listed buildings and the Hyde Park Registered Park and Garden. He considered that the crystals created a striking and eye-catching appearance, which would be particularly evident after dark as they reflected light from the spotlights. He held that the design and materials were alien to the site’s context, which resulted in an obtrusive appearance that drew attention away from the adjacent listed Lord Byron statue and nearby listed buildings. The sculpture, he found, was particularly prominent in southerly views from Park Lane towards the Grade I listed Apsley House. He therefore determined that the proposal resulted in harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area, the setting of the nearby listed buildings and Hyde Park.
The inspector acknowledged the contribution that public art can make to the culture, vibrancy and character of an area and noted the general policy support for such works within the London Plan and the City Plan. He reasoned, however, that such support is balanced against other policy considerations, such as the preservation of heritage assets. While he accepted that harm can be moderated by a short-term period of installation, he recorded that the sculpture had already been in situ for well over a year and he found that a period until December 2022 would do little to mitigate the harm he had identified. He was also mindful that Planning Practice Guidance advises that it will rarely be justifiable to grant a second temporary permission.
We think it’s a shame that a profile of the monarch’s head set within a rectangle won’t be sticking around. Meanwhile, must buy some stamps.
There is a section on public art at 17.436 of DCP Online.