A SCULPTURE of a bear could – after all – be sited on the edge of Dunbar after councillors overturned a decision to refuse the proposal.

East Lothian Council planners had turned down Hallhill Development Ltd’s bid for the metal bear, which would stand beside the southbound carriageway of the A1, east of the Spott Roundabout.

READ MORE: Giant bear statue plans turned down

However following an appeal, the council’s Local Review Body has given the plans the green light.

Scottish Ministers will now be notified of the proposal for the 16ft-tall bear, to be created by Andy Scott, the artist behind the iconic Kelpies, and will decide whether or not to call in the application for determination.

East Lothian Courier: Dog walkers pass the Kelpies in early morning sunshine on the Forth and Clyde canal near Falkirk

The Kelpies near Falkirk have become iconic. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The reasoning is because the development would affect the A1 and Transport Scotland had advised against granting planning permission.

Planning officials had turned down the project on the basis that it would “result in inappropriate parking which would interfere with the safety and free flow of traffic on the A1”.

The sculpture is a nod to the Dunbar-born ‘father of conservation’ John Muir.

Local councillor Norman Hampshire was one of councillors sitting on the review body who gave the bear the green light.

He said: “The proposal has had a range of different opinions within the community.

“However, any piece of new artwork that is ever produced and put into a location always has different opinions from different people about whether it is good or not.

“The artist selected to produce this is well known.

“He did design the Kelpies, which is now an internationally known piece of artwork.”

He hoped visitors to Dunbar who saw the bear would be tempted into the town centre to find out more.

However, it was not a view shared by ward colleague Sue Kempson, who was the only member of the Local Review Body to agree with department’s decision.

She said: “I find the links with John Muir extremely tenuous and I don’t find it particularly attractive.”

The committee’s remaining two members – Jeremy Findlay and Stuart Currie – approved the scheme.

Mr Currie said that similar sculptures, such as the Kelpies and the world-famous Angel of the North, near Gateshead, had quickly become iconic.

East Lothian Courier:

The Angel of the North, in Tyne and Wear, is world-famous. Image Google Maps

He added: “I understand the issue about how tenuous the link is but the purpose of the sculpture is to no doubt cause discussion and debate about whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

“How many thought it was a great idea to have two horses’ heads staring at you as you are heading through Falkirk or a great wingspan at Tyne and Wear?

“If it was suggested to take them away now there would be more than a steward’s enquiry, there would be a lynch mob.”

After the meeting, Ken Ross, of Hallhill Development Ltd, was confident any remaining hurdles would be overcome.

He said: “I am delighted that the council was able to grant the planning consent for the bear [with conditions] and we are looking forward to working with the council to ensure that we get this piece of public art created and erected during next summer.

“We are engaging with Andy Scott and his team and the council to ensure that will take place.

“They granted planning consent with conditions and we are already engaging with the council to ensure those conditions can be met.

“Further discussions with Transport Scotland are being held but there is goodwill on all sides and I’m certain we will be able to address that.”