PLANS for the erection of a ‘fantastic’ sculpture which relates to the ‘historical significance’ of RAF Burtonwood and pays homage to the area’s history have been approved.

An application proposing the ‘The Bolt of Lightning’ public art sculpture on Mountpark roundabout came before the development management committee at its meeting on Wednesday.

It relates to the first roundabout on Skyline Drive and an area of highway/footpath and verge on the southern side of Skyline Drive.

The application was approved, subject to conditions, with delegated authority given to the development manager following expiry of the notification period for the site notice provided that no additional material objections are received that are not dealt with in the report, as well as delegated authority given to the development manager to make ‘non-material changes to planning conditions and reasons as may be necessary prior to the issue of the decision’.

Committee member Cllr Judith Wheeler said she thinks it is going to be ‘fantastic’.

But she asked what happens to the maintenance and the ongoing care of it.

She added: “I don’t know what would go wrong with this, I don’t know what would weather, what would tarnish – where does that responsibility lie once it’s installed?”

The committee was told that a maintenance plan has to be submitted for approval – and that from the outset it was designed in a way that the landscaping, the plinth and the artwork itself require ‘as little maintenance as possible’.

Members were also told, beyond that, to the extent that it will have to be inspected and maintained, the burden falls with Omega Warrington, not with the council.

One of the conditions requires that, ‘prior to commencement of development’, details of the future management and maintenance arrangements for the sculpture, street furniture and the hard and soft landscaping – within the roundabout and proposed viewing area – shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The future management and maintenance shall then be carried out in accordance with the approved details ‘for the lifetime of the development hereby approved’.

This is to ensure future management and maintenance arrangements are ‘secured in the interests of visual amenity and highway safety’.

According to a report to the committee, the Section 106 agreement entered into as part of an application for residential development for up to 617 dwellings on land at Omega South, as well as a mixed-use area, included on obligation for public art.

The report highlights that this stated that the public art scheme was to be submitted ‘as soon as practicable’ following commencement of development, and ‘not to occupy’ more than 318 residential units unless and until the public art has been completed in accordance with the public art scheme.

The proposed sculpture would sit on an 8.4m x 8.4m square concrete plinth which would be 2m in height – while it would be 22.8m in height overall, including the plinth height, and 6.5m wide.

“The Bolt of Lightning sculpture relates to the historical significance of RAF Burtonwood and the role it played during the Second World War,” said the report.

“The Bolt of Lightning depicts a Lockheed P-38F Lightning fighter aircraft rising to the sky after a dive, leaving trails behind it. The trails formed by the engines are referred to as ‘swooshes’ and are supported by four independent columns on a large plinth, forming the base of the sculpture.

“Materials proposed are stainless steel for the aircraft and bolt fixings along with a concrete mix for the sculpture plinth. The proposed lighting scheme consists of narrow beam spotlights at the top of sculpture’s swooshes, on top of the tail of the plane. These generate a gradient of light, washing the surfaces of the two swooshes.

“The lighting scheme keeps the base in darkness to create the impression of the plane floating above it. The spotlights, with narrow beams and framing to avoid light spillage to the sides, will be created in aluminium alloy with fixings in a material resistant to corrosion and safety glass lenses.

“The applicant proposes that all the sculpture lighting shall be controlled solely by astronomical timeclock function. This will operate automatically based on the time of day and astronomical events such as sunset and sunrise, accounting for geographic location and calendar date. The proposed lighting system will operate one hour before sunset until midnight.

“The proposed public art sculpture would create a local landmark paying homage to the area’s history. The proposal is not considered to result in any harm to highway safety or visual amenity and the inclusion of the viewing area is welcomed to offer opportunities for pedestrians to understand the local significance of the design of the sculpture.”