We’ve spoken many times on the Journal about the lack of sensitivity when it comes to local opinion at heritage sites – Stonehenge being the prime example. And last year we highlighted several issues at Tintagel in Cornwall where the heritage of the site seemed to be taking a back seat to the need for cash generation for English Heritage’s (EH) coffers, and to hell with the history.

Sadly, once again it seems that EH’s need for finance is over-riding any consideration for the actual history and heritage of the site at Tintagel, which was the seat for several kings of Dumnonia in the early medieval period – a fact apparently of no interest to the site’s guardians. Under the auspices of ‘footpath improvements’, planning consent has recently been requested for the ‘construction of a pedestrian footbridge between the mainland and island wards of Tintagel Castle. Search the Cornwall Planning website using reference PA17/05087 for full details.

Following last year’s ‘makeover’ of the site, this has been seen as nothing more than a further ‘Disneyfication’ for commercial gain by many locals. And a description of the bridge in EH’s marketing material reads very much like something out of Pseud’s Corner:

Our proposal for the Tintagel Castle footbridge is based on a simple concept: to recreate the link that once existed and filled the current void. Instead of introducing a third element that spans from side to side, we propose two independent cantilevers that reach out and touch, almost, in the middle.

Visually the the proposal highlights the void through the absence of material in the middle of the crossing. The structure, 4.5m high where it springs from the rock face, tapers to a thickness of 120mm in the centre, with an open joint between the mainland and island halves. The narrow gap between them represents the transition between the mainland and the island, here and there, the present and the past, the known and the unknown, reality and legend: all the things that make Tintagel so special and fascinating.

Indeed, this description reads like a marketeers dream – explaining everything and nothing – all in the cause of the tourist’s £. But hopefully Cornwall Council’s planners will see sense this time around, if only on the obvious grounds of health and safety due to the gap between the two halves and the prevailing Cornish winds which may well make short shrift of any attempt to bed such a structure in the brittle siliceous slate geology of the cliffs at either end of the span.

If you agree with us that this application is totally insensitive and inappropriate for Tintagel and should not be allowed to go ahead, please register on the Cornwall Planning website and lodge an objection against reference PA17/05087.