Campaigners in hot water over rail link mural
A MURAL put up to highlight the need to re-open Portishead's rail link has landed campaigners in hot water – after the council said it was put up without permission.
The 40ft mural was erected on land at Harbour Road earmarked for a new station when the rail line re-opens.
The mural, costing in the region of £6,000, has been jointly funded by the Portishead Railway Group (PRG), Pure Offices and dock developers Crest Nicholson – who own the site – and Persimmon.
The design tells the 'railway story' of the North Somerset town, from 1867 and into the future with trains using the line again. It shows the history of the line and plans for its future and also features artwork depicting the arrival of the Broad Gauge line in the town.
This week's delicious £5 5 O'CLOCKTAIL is a refreshing Tequila Sunrise. Available everyday from our Bar for only £5 between 5pm & 7pm.
Terms: £5 cocktail applies to the cocktail of the week.
Contact: 0117 2448281
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
The mural – designed by local artist Aili Purdy – also embodies images from the past, present and future of Portishead and the surrounding area.
Included are the first train to Portishead in 1867, the High Street in 1890, a 1909 horse carriage, a diesel railcar from 1954, the modern marina, and a future train and station. The group say they checked with council planning officers on a number of occasions ahead of erecting the mural and were told, as it was a piece of art, planning permission was not needed.
Other artwork installed across the new developments in the town over the last seven years has been installed without planning permission.
The mural was officially unveiled by North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox and other local dignitaries at a special ceremony in April.
North Somerset Council said it has now asked the group to apply for planning permission to ensure the mural can stay.
Portishead Railway Group chairman Alan Matthews said as far as he was aware, the authority had not requested the group submit a planning application.
Mr Matthews said: "We checked with planning officers before the mural was put up and were told on two occasions that as effectively it was a piece of art, no planning permission was needed.
"Other artworks have been put up around the town without planning permission over the last few years.
"We also queried the matter with a local councillor who also said that as it was a piece of art, we did not require planning permission."
It is understood the mural will remain in place until the new station is built when the railway line re-opens.
The site is earmarked for a station in the North Somerset Local Plan.
Portishead councillor Arthur Terry was chairman of the town council at the time the mural was installed.
Mr Terry said: "When I met the group I questioned whether they needed planning permission for the mural.
"They assured me that had spoken to a senior North Somerset planning officer who advised them it was ok to put it up without planning permission.
"There seems to have been some confusion with this and I hope the matter can be resolved."
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "We are aware of this issue and we have asked the group to submit a planning application for the mural. "