A VISION to create an Alfred Wainwright statue in Kendal has moved a step closer thanks to a major ‘public realm enhancement’ grant.

Kendal Futures Board has received £150,000 from the North West Development Agency – and will invest around £25,000 into designs for three key areas of the town centre.

Kendal regeneration manager Joanne Golton identified the top of Finkle Street as being a potential home for the tribute and hinted at removing the Bird Cage to make room for it.

“The idea for a Wainwright sculpture is very much alive,” she said.

“We are looking at possible locations for it and hopefully when they come up with designs to revamp Finkle Street and Market Place there will be a space for a statue.”

The Northwest Development Agency awarded the funding to help KFB deliver the first phase of the Kendal Gateway to Lakes Public Realm Project (KGLPRP) - a series of economic and environmental regeneration initiatives for the town.

Although the bulk of the money will be used to carry out improvements in Kirkland, these initial designs for Finkle Street, Market Place and the Stramongate/New Road area are the first solid steps to creating a Wain-wright tribute.

However, when The Westmorland Gazette exclusively revealed the proposals in February, the news sparked a lively debate as to whether Wainwright would have approved.

Although many considered it a fitting tribute, a number of Wainwright’s friends, relatives and fans said he would have hated the idea.

Others, including Mark Weir, the owner of Borrow-dale’s Honister Slate Mine, believe the statue should be out in the fells rather than on a busy high street.

“As Wainwright said in his Coast to Coast Walk, the Lake District is the loveliest part of England, and Borrowdale is the fairest of its valleys,” said Mr Weir.

“Where better to have a tribute to him than in the landscape he loved?”

Coun Chris Hogg and Jonathan Brook of Kendal Town Council both feel the town centre is more appropriate.

“The Laurel and Hardy statue in Ulverston is very much the centrepiece of a townscape and works really well,” said Coun Brook “There has been a great deal of debate about the statue, where it should go and whether Wainwright would want it.

"I don’t think Wainwright would have wanted a memorial in the fells because that would be desecrating the landscape.”

Coun Hogg said the most exciting part of creating a statue would be involving the people of Kendal.

“I think the statue should be in the town, but where should be the result of a public consultation.The top of Finkle Street is a possibility,” he added.

The cost of creating the statue is not yet known, but similar schemes, such as the Laurel and Hardy statue in Ulverston, cost in the region of £60,000.