CONTROVERSIAL plans for a 5m high sculpture in Westminster Park have been put on hold.

The feature is proposed by Chester City Council in Westminster Park on Hough Green.

The edifice, using strips of galvanised steel to form arches, would be surrounded by small areas of earth mounding and similar smaller sculptures, according to a report.

Planning officers at the city council have had six objections arguing the sculpture will be too tall and visually dominant.

Opponents believe it will be a target for vandalism and describe its design as "unattractive and disappointing."

They fear it will be climbed on, causing overlooking and has the potential to lead to accidents.

The feature will result in an increase in noise and disturbance in the area, they feel and argue it would be better located in the centre of the park.

The sculpture was proposed in a corner of the 18.5 ha public park which is designated green space and surrounded on all sides by houses whose gardens back onto the park, Chester's planning board was due to be told.

The intention was the sculpture would enhance the recreational facilities and cultural value of the park.

It would not have a significant adverse effect, planning officers believed and would be 40m from the closest boundary of the park.

It would not be highly visible from surrounding properties but would enhance people's enjoyment of the park, they felt.

Pointing out that "art is a matter of individual taste", they suggested the planning system should not choose between what is good and bad art.

The installation would not be out of keeping in the park and would add a point of interest, they insisted.

Councillors were to hear the height of the sculpture had been increased from 4m to 5m following discussions with the artists and the metalwork fabricator to enable steeper contours which would make the sculpture less easy to climb.

This was preferable to anti climb paint, it was suggested.

The application was recommended for approval but development control manager Miss Fiona Edwards told the board it had been withdrawn.

It emerges that Town Hall culture supremo Cllr Eric Plenderleath (Con, Tarvin) has held a meeting with south of the river councillors Stephen Mosley (Con, Handbridge & St Mary's), Richard Short (Con, Curzon & Westminster), Max Drury (Indt, Curzon & Westminster) and Arthur Harada (Con, Lache Park), to discuss the issue.

A city council spokesman says the councillors considered whether the application should go ahead or if the sculpture should be reduced to 4m, which would not need planning permission.

A third option on the table was for the planning application to be withdrawn and the approach to be reconsidered when further improvements to the park are completed in June.

Following the planting of trees and other work, the councillors believe this will give a better idea of how the sculpture will look in its surroundings and decided on this course of action.