Primrose Hill set cannot bear an autumn glut of Paddingtons

Fifty statues of the marmalade-loving bear are to go up around the capital later this year to coincide with the launch of a new film
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The Independent Culture

Paddington is no stranger to getting himself into scrapes, but the marmalade-loving bear from Peru appears to have found himself at the centre of a row over a beauty spot in London's exclusive Primrose Hill.

Fifty statues of the diminutive bear are to go up around the capital later this year to coincide with the launch of a new Paddington film, slated for release in November. Each statue on the "Paddington Trail" will have its own look, provided by a top artist or celebrity. After their residency, lasting several weeks, the statues will be auctioned off in aid of the charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The film will star Ben Whishaw as the voice of the bear, with Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi and Julie Walters also taking roles.

However, some residents from the fashionable north-London district, home to many famous British actors, recently made their objections clear during the consultation phase before the statue is granted planning permission.

Phil Cowan said: "Primrose Hill Park is a cherished public space that offers a sanctuary from the world of commerce." He believes the application is "a direct attack on the concept of what a neutral public space was designed for". Karen Ross also expressed her concern that the statue, which would stand at just over 1.5 metres tall, would set an "unwelcome precedent" for other applications, and added that it might become a "target for vandals".

However, planning officer Matthias Gentet said the "modest size of the installation, its temporary nature, its public benefit and the lack of damage to historic material" meant permission could be granted. He added: "The charitable aspect and benefit gained from the auctioning... outweigh the negative commercial side."

Other proposed sites reportedly include Leicester Square, and Duke of York Square in Chelsea, as well as others in Westminster and Southwark.

Paddington first appeared in print in 1958 and subsequently featured in more than 20 books written by Michael Bond.

The Independent on Sunday approached Mr Bond yesterday, but the author said he had been advised not to comment by the PR firm handling the film.