Controversial 'poorest quality' Prince Philip statue must be torn down, Cambridge council orders

The sculpture is likely to be moved to somewhere other than Cambridge, as ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson reports.

A controversial statue of Prince Philip described as "possibly the poorest quality" a council has ever seen must be removed.

The 4m (13ft) sculpture of 'The Don' on Hills Road in Cambridge represents the late Prince Philip in his role as vice-chancellor of University of Cambridge.

It is thought the £150,000 statue was erected without planning permission within the last four years.

In 2014, plans for the statue were described as "possibly the poorest quality work that has ever been submitted to the council" by Cambridge City Council's public art officer.

Now it has been issued with an enforcement notice by the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service, as it has a "harmful material impact" on the appearance of the area.

It said the sculpture must be permanently removed within four months from 11 April, unless an appeal is made beforehand.

The land must also be restored to its former condition prior to the sculpture's installation.

What does the statue look like?

'The Don' stands outside Charter House on Hills Road and is 4m (13ft) tall.

It is cast in bronze but painted black and white, with a twisted head and no distinguishable facial features.

The figure is wearing robes and an academic cap, as it was meant to represent Prince Philip in his role as vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.

The statue is cast in bronze, but painted black and white. Credit: ITV Anglia

Why has it proven controversial?

The statue was refused planning permission in 2014, as Cambridge City Council said: "It is too large a scale for the context of the space it will be located within and will compromise the quality of the new development."

However, the sculpture was erected within the last four years and has been described as "detritus masquerading as public art" by locals.

  • ITV News Anglia asked locals what they thought of the sculpture.

In a blog post, councillor Katie Thornburrow said: "Nobody, apart from the wealthy property developer who commissioned it, seems to have a good word to say about it.

"I will be glad to see it gone, but remain angry that developers could just dump it in place and then force the council to spend officers’ time and money getting them to take it away."

The artist credited with the statue has denied making it. Credit: ITV Anglia

Who is behind the statue?

The statue was commissioned by the Unex Group, a developer for the office block near to the sculpture.

The named sculptor Pablo Atchugarry denied being the artist responsible.

The Unex Group said it was planning to move the statue to somewhere other than Cambridge and chairman William Gredley said: "Pablo Atchugarry visited Cambridge with me several years ago as I intended to commission him with a Don in Cambridge, in marble.

"Unfortunately he could not find a piece of white marble large enough for the sculpture and we decided to cast it in bronze with Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry.

"I agree that perhaps it was too big for many people but such is art.  

"It is our intention to remove it and place it elsewhere outside of Cambridge." 

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