AN open-air Gabion Gallery is set to be the first part of Minehead’s ambitious new Maritime Mile plan - despite concerns it looks 'ugly'.

But the design has divided opinion at West Somerset Council, with some councillors saying the gallery will be a welcome attraction on the seafront, while others decried the plan as a ‘total waste of money’ and ‘clutter’.

The proposal, which was granted permission at West Somerset Council’s planning committee on Thursday, is for a gallery formed of stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood.

The idea is for the gallery to be placed around a electricity service box and have images depicting historic images of the town provided by the community and the museum and will feature augmented reality. 

Somerset County Gazette:

Mayor of Minehead Councillor Jean Parbrook welcomed the addition, saying: “This is the first part of an exciting project for Minehead’s seafront, which in all honesty, has looked a bit bleak in recent years. I think this Maritime Mile will help brighten up the seafront and, hopefully, help bring tourists from Butlins into the town.”

Cllr Karen Mills also supported the plan saying it would be a nice welcome for people coming off the train into Minehead. However, Cllr Terry Venner was not a fan, saying the gabion baskets as ‘ugly’ and ‘a total waste of money’.

Cllr Brenda Maitland-Walker also voted against the gabions. She said: “Personally I am not keen. You already have the clock and the Minehead letter seats nearby and I fear this addition will make the area appear cluttered.”

Cllr Rosemary Woods does not feel the gallery would be an enhancement to the seafront and said the gabions would be better used protecting the cliffs at Blue Anchor. 

The proposal was approved by West Somerset Council’s planning committee by five votes to three, with one abstention. Minehead seafront is set to be transformed after £500,000 was set aside from the Hinkley CIM funding toward the Enterprising Minehead project, while £80,000 has come in the form of EU Leader funding.