Those behind the project have blamed the economic downturn

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MULTI-million pound plans to build a giant white horse in Ebbsfleet – expected to be the most significant public art piece since Angel of the North – have been stalled by the economic downturn.

Despite a fundraising campaign looking for parties to invest in its development, efforts have proved fruitless with a lack of sponsors coming forward to help pay for the building of the 50 metre sculpture.

The horse, designed by Turner-prize winner Mark Wallinger, is expected to cost several million pounds according to those behind the project, although speculation surrounding the final price suggests a figure closer to £12 million.

Wallinger fought off stiff competition from other internationally-acclaimed artists to win the high-profile Ebbsfleet Landmark Project (ELP) in 2009 with his ambitious design.

His horse will be 33 times larger than the Riviera Red racehorse on which he based the sculpture, and will look out over the new Ebbsfleet Valley development at Springhead.

It has been dubbed the Angel of the South and is likely to be the biggest and most significant public work of art since the development of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North in Gateshead.

Part-funded by Eurostar, Land Securities, and London and Continental Railways, MrWallinger’s sculpture design was originally due to be completed in time for the London Olympics.

Planning permission was obtained in April, 2010, from Gravesham Borough Council, but this is likely to have to be renewed next year.

A spokesman for Land Securities said a committee of interested parties was still trying to secure funding for the project.

“We’re hoping things will pick up,” he said. “The planning permission runs out next year, but we don’t envisage any problems getting that renewed.

“We funded the design, but we now have to find parties to fund the build.

“The economic downturn has stalled it. No-one knew the housing market would take a downturn.”

He admitted the sculpture would be more expensive than initially thought.

“We have never disclosed exactly how much it will be, but it will be several million,” he said.

He was unable to give a time as to when the sculpture might be built but said it would still go ahead.

Few other details have been released about the project in stark contrast to the global wave of publicity that followed the unveiling of the horse as the winner of the ELP in January, 2009.

The commission was announced in 2007 aimed at attracting internationally-acclaimed artists.

Five designs were commissioned but Wallinger came through victorious with his ambitious horse design.

The aim of the project is to provide a high-profile symbol for Ebbsfleet Valley, the Gravesham and Dartford communities and the north Kent region to help identify Ebbsfleet Valley and Ebbsfleet International station.

At 40-50m high, the landmark will be one of the biggest artworks in the UK, comparable in scale to the Statue of Liberty.

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