Northumberlandia – the Lady of the North

Local authority: Northumberland County Council
Planning permission: Granted by Northumberland County Council in late 2007
Concept developed: Between late 2007 and summer 2009
Constructed: Between summer 2009 and autumn 2012
What is she made of and how was she made?: Around 1.5 million tonnes of material (predominantly crushed and compacted stone, clay and soil) was taken from the adjacent Shotton surface coal mine to the Northumberlandia site, where it was moved into place by members of the Banks construction and mining teams using bulldozers and excavators. Without the development of the adjacent Banks Mining’s Shotton surface mine, the creation of Northumberlandia would not be possible. It is a good example The Banks Group’s “restoration first” approach to surface mining to provide benefits to the community before, during and after the operation of a surface coal mine.
Opened: 3 September 2012 by HRH The Princess Royal
Development partners: Charles Jencks, the renowned landscape designer and architectural historian, and the Blagdon Estate team together with the in-house team at The Banks Group
Managed by: The Land Trust and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. The Banks Group is the joint funder of the project’s construction and maintenance costs, alongside the Blagdon Estate.
Postcode of Northumberlandia visitor centre: NE23 8AU

Background: As part of a planning application for a new surface mine at Shotton in Northumberland, the Banks Group and landowner Blagdon Estate decided to create something unique which would enhance the positive social and economic impact of the project on the surrounding area. The company adopted a “Restoration First” strategy to the scheme, taking an extra piece of land donated by the landowner, adjacent to the mine and providing a new landscape for the community to enjoy while the mine is still operational.  The project team approached world-renowned artist Charles Jencks to design a new landmark feature.

The outcome of the design process was Northumberlandia, a reclining female figure set into the local landscape and built from carefully selected material taken from the surface mine that would become the world’s largest human landform. It was envisaged that the project would be an outstanding artistic landmark which would stand alongside the region’s other main tourist attractions, and would also provide high quality leisure facilities for use by the local community and visitors to the area for many decades to come. Responsibility for managing the landform park is now with the Land Trust, a national organisation which secures the long term future of public spaces and which will continue to work in conjunction with local partners including Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Azure.

The project garnered significant local, national and international interest. Since in opened on 3 September 2012 it has quickly become a major regional tourist attraction. Over the last five years there has been an average of over 150,000 visitors per year to Northumberlandia. It has won tourism awards and regularly appears on the media as a great place to visit.

For more information please also see Northumberlandia’s bespoke website: http://www.northumberlandia.com/

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