Ten-year-old campaigner secures safe landing for iconic Angel Wings sculpture

Wing Span: Artist’s impression of the planned new-look Angel Wings. Photograph: CBRE Ltd.

An iconic sculpture will continue to soar over Islington’s Angel Central shopping centre after a 10-year-old campaigner faced down developers who wanted it taken down.

Angel Wings, designed in 2003 by artists Wolfgang Buttress and Fiona Heron, found a guardian in Olivia Gordon Clark when plans were submitted to Islington Council to remove them from their present position a year ago.

Olivia kickstarted the Save Our Wings campaign to keep the sculpture in place, and last night the council approved plans to incorporate Angel Wings into the new-look Angel Central.

Speaking at the 10 September meeting of Islington’s planning committee, Olivia called on the council to hold owners CBRE Ltd to account in its commitment to return the sculpture to residents safe and sound.

Olivia said: “I formally objected to this application as when it was submitted there was no guarantee that if the Wings were removed temporarily, they would return, or if they were damaged, they would be repaired.

“The officer’s report now sets out a number of conditions to ensure the protection of the Wings, which is very reassuring.

“The only objection I have is whether there should be some guarantee in the form of money to protect the Wings during the development.

“Under the current arrangement, if the Wings are damaged and the developers do not repair or return them, the council would have to go to court to have them reinstated. This would be very costly and time-consuming for Islington Council.

“However, I am only 10, and so if the planning committee think that these conditions provide enough security for the Wings, then I have no other objection to this proposal.”

Speaking after the meeting, Olivia said: “The feeling that the Wings are going to be staying at [Angel Central] is amazing.

“This means that the people of Islington are not going to wake up one morning to find the Wings suddenly under construction.”

Councillors reacted positively to the changes made to CBRE’s plans, and approved the new development.

Cllr Martin Klute (Lab, St Peter’s), chair of the planning committee, said: “We are delighted that [CBRE] have come up with what seems to be the ideal solution.”

The Wings are to be temporarily removed and will briefly come to rest in a workshop, where they will be placed on footings which will add three metres to their height.

CBRE have committed as part of their application to then return the wings to their previous position, where they will arch over a new bridge forming part of the centre’s new frontage on Liverpool Road.

Officers stated that the new plans give the Wings an even better vantage point, with members of the public better able to sit and walk beneath them.

Work is now expected to begin on the conversion of Angel Central’s basement car park into a mix of new retail units.

A spokesperson for CBRE said: “We tried to find a solution where the Wings would be retained.

“We understand the love and affection that local people have for the Wings.

“The last few months have been a hard slog to make sure that the Wings can be retained.”