A STATUE that was considered 'not good enough for Barrow' will now be put up in Furness Abbey.

The monument to a Cumbrian businessman Sir John Laing CBE was formally refused in July 2022 by the then Barrow council.

But an appeal by applicant David Laing, the grandson of Sir John, has now been upheld by a planning inspector who said he was satisfied that the proposal would preserve Furness Abbey and its setting would not harm its significance as a designated heritage asset.

Sir John was a British entrepreneur in the construction industry who lived from 1879 from 1978. He was from small beginnings in Carlisle and turned the family firm into an international building and civil engineering firm.

According to the John Laing Charitable Trust, he was ahead of his time with many innovations and was among the first to give holidays with pay, a company pension, bonus payments and results payments in the construction industry. 

Whenever his firm was in trouble, he visited Barrow to pray and felt 'forever indebted' to Furness. Councillors remained unconvinced that the abbey was an appropriate site for the statue of the entrepreneur and turned it down.

The planning committee's vice chairman Cllr Colin Thomson and member Cllr Bill McEwan felt approving the application would 'set a precedent' for others wishing to put statues at the historic religious site.

Cllr Thomson previously told The Mail: "He wasn't born here, he was born in Carlisle. He's done nothing here to help the town."

Bob Pointing, who owns Abbey Vale Lodge by the abbey, was also critical of the design which was sculpted by Jim Butler, who had now died. 

Mr Pointing said: "It's not good enough for Barrow and it's not good enough for Furness Abbey."

At a previous planning committee meeting, applicant David Laing, the grandson of Sir John, said: "He may not have been a resident of Barrow, but he was very much a man of the area, and he did work here, his men worked here and he brought work into the area."

He also insisted to councillors that, without Barrow, Coventry's iconic cathedral, which his grandfather's firm built, would not have existed.

The main concern of the planning committee was cited as the statue's effect on the character and appearance of the site.

This is not considered to be the case now however. 

The bronze, life-sized sculpture of Sir John will sit on a new bench with a semi-circular stone wall in front of dense vegetation in front of the railway embankment.

In this position, the monument is deemed as not "unduly intrusive" as it would be behind the stone wall and vegetation. There is no viewpoint from which the statue and the abbey can be viewed to together.

To read the full outcome of the appeal, visit Barrow Borough Council's website under Appeal reference number APP/W0910/W/22/3308866.