A NEW location has been chosen for the statue of Mary Anning, due to be unveiled in Lyme Regis next year.

Following a successful fundraising campaign, plans are in place to unveil a statue of famed palaeontologist Mary Anning in her hometown on what would have been her 222nd birthday, on May 21 2022.

The original proposed site for the statue was next to the Marine Theatre. The building is leased by Dorset Council to South West Water and the team at Mary Anning Rocks, which is responsible for delivering the statue, was having issues with getting the location signed off.

The campaigners will now be seeking planning consent for a spot above Church Cliff Beach.

The team behind the campaign say they now have full consent from the landowners. However, since the new location lies within a heritage zone and is a nature conservation site, heritage and ecology reports need to be produced.

Anya Pearson, trustee of the Mary Anning Rocks campaign, said: "This is a far superior spot to the one down by the Marine Theatre, it sets Mary well and truly in the landscape where she worked.

"There feels great energy and connectivity to the space that we are all thrilled about.

"Our planners have told us we will be handing in the planning application by the end of the year, if not sooner."

Ms Pearson also said that artist Denise Dutton has been given the go-ahead to begin work on the full-size sculpture so that the group can hit its pencilled in unveiling date of May 21 2022, which would be Anning's 223rd birthday.

She said: "If we didn't allow Denise to start, we would never hit our unveil date in May next year so, although we don't have planning consent just yet, we felt it was the right thing to do.

"We have booked venues and paid deposits, so although nothing is set in stone until we are granted planning permission, we felt we had to start to plan and book things in."

The creation and erecting of the statue was made possible by a successful £100,000 fundraising appeal by Mary Anning Rocks.

The project began when local schoolgirl Evie Swire, Ms Pearson's daughter, was shocked that there was not already a statue of Anning to acknowledge her achievements.