FOUR hippos on a North East housing estate have surfaced after 40 years to be highlighted nationally.
The concrete animals from the Garth estate at Killingworth, North Tyneside, provide the front cover for an English Heritage guide for planners across the country.
The guide covers the drawing up of Local Lists. These are buildings, structures or features which, although not nationally listed, are of importance to local people and neighbourhoods.
When North Tyneside Council drew up its list, a public nomination exercise held over three months yielded 240 candidates.
A total of 168 made the list, and the most-nominated were the hippos, which were installed in the early 1970s shortly after the completion of the housing estate. They were created by Scottish artist Stan Bonnar.
The Local List offers a degree of protection in that entries are taken into consideration in planning matters and can help influence decisions.
Over the years, the Killingworth hippos have clearly found a place in the affections of townspeople.
“The hippos are an example of the hidden gems that matter to local people just as much as local landmarks of historic or architectural value,” said the council’s principal planning officer Graham Sword.
“I am not aware of any particular connection between Killingworth and hippos but they are a quirky addition to the town and something quite different.
“I think they are a talking point and a point of reference and a navigational aid in the town. It was a pleasant surprise to see them on the front of the national planning guide.
“I am delighted they have been used to draw attention to the good practice in North Tyneside to protect the character of our local communities.
“I don’t think any other place has anything like them although Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire does have concrete cows.”
The guide features North Tyneside as a case study and describes how the council set up a panel to assess Local List nominations which included local history, architecture and conservation experts, a local amenity society, architects, town planners, a garden historian and a local studies librarian.