Kelpies artist wins battle to have burger van removed

The Artisan Grill food stall which sits near the Kelpies will now be removed. Picture: Michael Gillen
The Artisan Grill food stall which sits near the Kelpies will now be removed. Picture: Michael Gillen

Kelpies creator Andy Scott has won a battle to have a burger van he deems as “offensive” to his sculptures removed from near the attraction.

The artist behind the 30-metre high stainless steel horses was “flabbergasted” when a “fake Bavarian burger bar” was put up within metres of his creation earlier this year.

Kelpies creator Andy Scott with Princess Anne at the official opening of the attraction. Picture: Michael Gillen

Kelpies creator Andy Scott with Princess Anne at the official opening of the attraction. Picture: Michael Gillen

He claimed the fast food cabin Artisan Grill, approved by Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) in March, “defiled” his vision and prevented tourists properly viewing the horses.

Glasgow-based Mr Scott – who owns the intellectual property rights for the statues – even threatened legal action over the “sauce-stained” stall.

Now Falkirk Council’s planning review panel, consisting of councillors Baillie William Buchanan (convener), Colin Chalmers and John McLuckie, has turned down a retrospective application for the stall – meaning it will have to be removed.

The stall’s owners, Supreme Fast Foods, previously had their application turned down but asked for a review, even offering to relocate to a less controversial spot.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The operators were previously refused planning permission by planning officers under delegated powers. They then asked for a review.

“The planning review committee of Falkirk Council has upheld officers’ decision to refuse planning permission.”

Mr Scott – a graduate of Glasgow School of Art – welcomed the decision.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted that good sense has prevailed. This decision means that the artworks and the landscaping will once again be seen in their full glory in the way it was intended.”

Mr Scott added: “It’s nothing to do with me trying to be unyielding or unwieldy or anything like that. The reality is I have a say. My job is to protect the integrity of the artwork. If these are supposed to be landmarks for the country they should be treated accordingly.”

Mr Scott previously wrote to the council, saying: “I wonder if you’d be good enough to let me know when a decision might be made to instruct the removal of the offending (and offensive) structure.

“With every day that passes hundred more people are having their appreciation of these sculptures marred by this monstrous carbuncle masquerading as a fast food outlet.

“It is a woeful situation.”

He also threatened to pursue legal action if his concerns were not addressed and his stance was backed up by Richard Millar, director of infrastructure with Scottish Canals.

His submission to the council read: “Given the current location of the snack bar it is virtually impossible to capture any proper image of The Kelpies without including at least part of the structure.

“Their images are to be seen worldwide symbolising the regeneration and aspiration of the Falkirk area and drawing visitors from far and wide.”

Tom McInally, a town planner action on behalf of Supreme Fast Foods, said the company had agreed to erect the stall in good faith.

He said: “The applicant simply responded to an invitation to tender for a business opportunity advertised on a Scottish Government website at the request of Falkirk Community Trust (FCT).

“The agency responsible for the site invited the operation in. FCT was fully aware of the nature and location of the proposed food unit and allowed the applicant to operate from the site and provided clearance that landowner consent was not required.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “The matter of the suitability for this operation in land use terms is a matter for the local planning authority, not FCT or the sculptor.”

The Kelpies - made from 600 tonnes of steel - are the centrepiece of a £43m parkland project. They are now one of Scotland’s most recognisable and visited landmarks.

Councillors have previously been riled by Mr Scott’s strict controls over the sculptures.

They claimed that because they were funded through taxpayer cash and lottery funds, the public should have more say over how they are managed.

The row began after Mr Scott refused to allow the community to drape an oversized Falkirk FC scarf around one of the statues to mark the team’s appearance in the Scottish Cup Final.