A BITTER row over moving the 107-year-old statue of Queen Victoria on the Boulevard threatened to delay Blackburn’s ambitious £28million Cathedral Quarter development.
Tory spokesman Alan Cottam objected to the proposal to relocate the landmark when the borough’s planning committee debated the project.
With the backing of Liberal Democrat Paul Browne, he called for the proposal to move the statue to be dropped from the scheme.
The plans to provide a complex including a hotel, the first clergy court and cloister garden for a major Church building for 570 years, restaurants shops, public square and bus interchange next to the railways station were approved.
But they were only agreed after borough regeneration boss Dave Harling promised to ensure that the monument would not be dumped in a storeroom but restored and given a prominent place in the scheme complete with the stone balustrade originally planned for removal.
The promise, which led the Victorian Society to withdraw its objection to the plans, has failed to convince the Blackburn, Darwen and Rural Civic Voice conservation group.
Its secretary Simon Hugill said: “Our worry is that the statue of Queen Victoria will be put somewhere that does not match her current dominant position in the town centre. “We will be watching very closely to ensure that she is relocated somewhere prominent that is suitable to her dignity and the contribution the Victorians made to Blackburn.”
Coun Cottam said: “Why do we have to move the statue and take down the balustrading? I don’t want to see her disappear from this prominent position and be lost in the development.”
Coun Browne questioned both moving the statue and cutting down historic trees to make way for new buildings.
Coun Harling said: “We have agreed to keep the balustrading and will put the statue in a prominent position. I promise you she will not be left in some council storeroom. She will be restored and cleaned. As a result the Victorian Society have withdrawn their objection.”
The project, due for completion in 2015, is a key part of the transformation of the town centre after the construction of The Mall shopping centre and plans for a £5million new bus station in Ainsworth Street.
Previously a statue of Prime Minister William Gladstone was moved from the Boulevard.