Monday, 7 February 2011
Dragon project gets approval
Tonight's planning committee approved the Dragon project at Chirk, after long deliberation and some concerns at the traffic problems on the A483 roundabout nearby, the business plan and the look of the actual dragon.
Some councillors raised genuine concerns about the project, as they had done last month, but the 10-5 in favour of the project was a clear mandate.
This project has had to overcome many hurdles - and rightly so because it will be a huge legacy. However, I feel we set the bar higher on this project than on - say - a fast-food takeway or a supermarket because councillors and officers were nervous about the "white elephant" (to mix animal metaphors) syndrome.
The scale of the dragon is pretty epic and needs to be if it is to make an impact similar to the Angel of the North. Sceptics who say it is not as iconic as that public artwork were probably matched by councillors in Newcastle who would have moaned that the statue was ugly, would rust and be an eyesore. Within a decade it has become an icon for the north-east of England and rightly so.
One pernickity councillor warned us against being carried away on a tide of national identity (aka nationalism). I think that was the last thing on most councillors' minds, with an unholy alliance of Labour and Tory councillors opposing for a variety of reasons.
One Labour councillor opposed on the grounds that the dragon wouldn't be red. It won't. It will be a burnished bronze that will be tempered by the weather - do we have to be so literal in our understanding?
The dragon, situated at the gateway to a series of emerging and established attractions in the north-east, has the same potential. It will stand proud and will be a fantastic symbol right on the border.
As well as attracting tourists from outside Wales, it will also be popular with people from within Wales.
Tonight was a vote of confidence rather than a vote of timidity.