Starters' orders for giant horse

The creation of a giant white horse already dubbed "the Angel of the South" is a step closer to fruition after the local authority unanimously approved the plans.

Gravesham Borough Council gave planning permission at a meeting last night for the striking statue of a horse standing on all four hooves 33 times life-size.

Designed by former Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger, the giant white horse is expected to dominate the north Kent landscape and be seen by up to 60 million people each year from the busy A2.

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It was named as the winning design last January following a competition launched by the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project's founding patrons, Eurostar, Land Securities and London & Continental Railways.

They plan to regenerate the area around Ebbsfleet International railway station with up to 10,000 new homes and community facilities across a 400-acre site, and hope the art work will act as a symbol for the project.

Project director Mark Davy said the redevelopment will also create around 20,000 new jobs.

He said: "Mark Wallinger's White Horse will act as an important catalyst for the cultural identity of the area."

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Approval by the planning committee now means that further detailed design, costing and technical studies can take place.

When made the piece will be more than twice as tall as Antony Gormley's 66ft (20m) high Angel Of The North sculpture built in Gateshead in 1998.

Mr Wallinger said: "This is a tremendously exciting project. I was honoured that my White Horse won the competition and I am delighted that Gravesham Borough Council has granted it planning permission."

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