CONSERVATIONISTS say they have modified their initial hostility to plans for the North-East's latest major sculpture.

Durham County Council wants to erect a giant steel bowl - dubbed the Wok of the North - on a hillock near its headquarters in the city's Aykley Heads area.

The council says the sculpture could become a focal point for tourists, just as Gateshead's Angel of the North has, and bring visitors' money into the city.

But opponents of the scheme say it is superfluous as Durham already attracts thousands of visitors because of its World Heritage Site featuring the cathedral and castle.

They also fear that the sculpture, officially called the Sky Bowl, could spoil views of the two landmarks.

Among the scheme's critics was the City of Durham Trust, but one of the trustees, Mary Sales, said members recently met artist Pal Svensson and viewed his plans for the 50ft bowl, which people will be able to go inside.

"Trustees agreed to think about it again and take on board the views that were expressed," she said.

"The initial publicity had not been favourable to the artist, the position of the bowl had not been fully understood and its relationship to the cathedral had not been grasped.

"It is possible for people to go inside the bowl and see reflections of the bowl, the sky and the surrounding countryside. The artist's wish not to rule the cathedral had not been grasped at first.''

Miss Sales added that trustees had "moved away from outright hostility and are prepared to look at it again''.