A proposal to place an historic statue in a prominent position in the town centre has been turned down by the council, to the dismay of campaigners.
A bid was put forward to put the Prince Albert statue by the Town Hall in Queen’s Square, Priory Meadow.
But councillors on Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee refused planning consent, going against planning officers’ recommendations.
Steven Whitford, administrator for the Albert Statue project, said: “The main reason for refusal was that the statue, sculpted in 1862 by Edwin Stirling in Liverpool for inclusion in the Albert Memorial Clock Tower that stood in Hastings Town Centre from 1863 until demolished in 1973, was considered to be in too poor a condition for display outside the Grade II listed Town Hall.
“The committee’s decision was a big surprise to members of the community project group. Although the statue has been in a poor condition for many years, it is an important past of Hastings’ social history and remains a valuable work of art nationally as well as locally.
“At a public consultation event last July, 247 people signed a form supporting the proposal to have the statue relocated to the vicinity of the Town Hall.
“There have been calls to have the statue put back into the public domain for many years, and it had looked that this was soon going to happen at last. Kelly Stirling, the great-great-granddaughter of Albert’s sculptor, viewed the statue at its storage place in the greenhouse at the Alexandra Park service yard during her trip from California to the UK last autumn, and she has been very keen for the statue to be erected alongside our Town Hall. Her family has offered to pay for an information board to be located alongside the statue.
“Whether the community group makes an appeal against the decision to refuse the full planning application has yet to be discussed.”
Kevin Boorman, council spokesman, said: “The committee was of the view that the condition of the statue was so poor that it detracted from the Town Hall building itself, and so refused planning permission.”
A small exhibition,
Hastings MP Amber Rudd met with Hastings Local History Group in Priory Meadow last Saturday (February 14). She spoke with Brian Lawes who explained that the group intends to restore the Prince Albert statue.
Ms Rudd said: “It is fantastic to see a solid group of residents uniting with each other in order to restore the 150-year-old statue.”