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Bandstand railings plan does not hit right note

Plans for safety railings at a historic Biddulph attraction have been blasted by objectors as “totally utilitarian and absolutely wrong”.

The National Trust has applied to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for permission to put wrought iron barriers around the inside of a bandstand nestled within the grade I listed Biddulph Grange Gardens, on Grange Road.

But critics have hit out at the balustrade plan, saying it looked more like something to be found along “a modern highway”.

The bandstand, currently closed off to visitors, overlooks the gardens and is at the end of a terrace near to the main house.

As there are “considerable drops” from it, architects on behalf of the National Trust said that several “guarding systems” needed to be considered.

One involved glass barriers, but it was instead decided that wrought iron handrails were the “most unobtrusive option”.

In justifying the need for the railings, a statement with the National Trust’s planning application said: “The proposed works are to prevent serious injury or death to individuals should they fall over the low stone wall around the perimeter of the bandstand.”

The Gardens Trust and the Staffordshire Gardens and Parks Trust, both consultees to the plans, criticised the fact that the railings would only go part of the way round the bandstand and argued that the design “more closely resembles a modern highway railing” than something expected in a historic landscape.

At a meeting of Biddulph Town Council’s Planning Committee last Tuesday, councillors echoed the objections.

Coun Jim Garvey said: “The proposed railings are very modern and are out of keeping with the style of the garden. In other areas, they might look quite nice, but here they are out of place.”

Coun John Davies said: “They are totally utilitarian. I don’t know how the architect got the approval of the National Trust to put these in – they are absolutely wrong in this historic setting.”

The plans were subsequently recommended to the planning authority for refusal.

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