A sculpture that has the appearance of a rock was last week unveiled at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park. Together with two other rocks, it cost Tunbridge Wells Borough Council £17,500.
Town Hall paid for the work with funds secured through a Section 106 agreement which sees developers make a contribution to community projects.
Fairview New Homes struck the deal as part of their proposal to build a 94 home development in Jackwood Way, which was originally planned in 2007.
This practise of developers paying these ‘sweeteners’ to councils often sees funding handed over to local schools or health services.
But this time the council decided to give £30,000 in a ‘Public Art Sum’ as part of the agreement. The £17,500 came from this pot of money. Total contributions from the developer came to slightly more than £150,000.
Award-winning artist Richard Perry unveiled Zephyr, the boulder-like piece, on Friday [April 6] in a presentation before members of the public and invited guests.
A spokesman for the borough council said: “The sculpture is carved from gneiss stone with carving emphasising the natural markings in the stone.
“It is also inspired by flowing shapes representing the moving water, wind through the trees and the rolling nature of the park.”
Readers were quick to offer comment on the Times’ Facebook page.
Ben Harman said: “That sir, is a rock. If I am incorrect then my garden is full of art.”
James Rigby said: “I think it represents tradition, permanence and solidity.
“For me, it’s a witty counterpoint to the modern transient throwaway society we have become. As if dropped from the heavens, it’s a stark juxtaposition to the verdant lushness of the park.”
Paul Hammond said: “This must be from Stonehenge,” and Linda Bingham added: “It looks like a fossilised giant tortoise.”
The Section 106 agreement, as it appeared in a 2007 document, listed other beneficiaries as pedestrian and cycle improvements and library services.
Zephyr is placed alongside other similar works in Grosvenor and Hilbert Park.
These are known as Grosvenor Rocks and are part of a development designed by architecture firm We Made That.
The Times asked the council where the rest of the £30,000 Public Art Sum was spent. No reply had been received at the time of going to press.
Mr Perry has been approached for further comment.
How Section 106 works
According to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, a Section 106 agreement helps to “mitigate the impact of an unacceptable development to make it acceptable in planning terms”.
Sometimes this can see a developer make a payment to help fund school projects or health services. But it can be used in a variety of ways.
For example, Altitude, the developer behind the Tunbridge Wells cinema site, is set to pay around £500,000 to schools and community projects.