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Ironman statue runs into row
Plans to erect a nude statue on the roof of an Oxford shop have run into trouble 10 days before an eagerly awaited unveiling ceremony.
Councillors have pointed out the 7ft sculpture by Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley does not have planning permission.
The half-tonne iron statue is due to be lifted on to the roof of Blackwell’s Art and Poster shop, in Broad Street, on February 15.
Exeter College said it wanted to display the statue, worth more than £250,000, in a public place because of the huge interest in Gormley’s work.
But it has emerged planning permission is unlikely to be secured until March 17.
And councillor Shushila Dhall is unhappy the decision is being left to planning officers, under delegated powers.
'Groups and people interested in the centre of Oxford should have the opportunity to say if they like it'Sushilla Dhal
She now intends to have the application “called in” to the city council’s central, south and west area committee, so the final decision can be taken by elected representatives.
Ms Dhall, of the Green Party, said: “I was amazed this has been passed to officers. It is not like an extension at the back of somebody’s house. Groups and people interested in the centre of Oxford should have the opportunity to say if they like it.
“I actually like the statue as a piece of art. It will be on one of the least attractive buildings in Broad Street and I think the statue will improve it. But the problem is not the actual site, but the fact it should no be decided under delegated authority.”
She said she had heard concerns about the weight of the statue and the risk of it falling off.
But Lord Mayor of Oxford Susanna Pressel said: “I think it is wonderful. I cannot imagine anyone complaining about it.
“We must not be too boring and stuffy. There has to be room for an imaginative work like this, to make life more fun.”
The Bursar of Exeter College, Eric Bennett, said: “We will carry on with what we agreed we were going to do.”
An Oxford City Council spokesman said: “The council recognises public art is an important cultural asset that contributes to the public enjoyment of Oxford and therefore our policy encourages appropriate public art which enlivens the public realm.
“Officers do not foresee any particular problems.”