THE Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has been told by planning officers it needs permission for a large sculpture on its forecourt.

The Taichi Arch by Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming was hoisted into position by crane in November.

It joined a large Henry Moore sculpture on the forecourt, The Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 2: Bridge Prop, but this did not need permission as it is not bolted to the ground, Oxford City Council said.

Now the Beaumont Street museum has had to apply for consent for the Ju Ming statue, or face having to remove it.

In its application the museum said: “Following consultation with the local authority planning officer it was confirmed that an application for planning and listed building consent would not be required. The installation of the statue proceeded on this basis.

“A subsequent request for a retrospective application for planning and listed building consent has now been received from the local authority.”

Yesterday, city council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “It is difficult to assess situations like these without seeing the statues in situ.

“Once we had done that, we informed the Ashmolean that they did require permission.”

She added: “There are two statues on the site of the Ashmolean Museum. One, the Henry Moore, did not need planning permission or listed building consent.

“The other requires planning permission and listed building consent as it has been attached to the ground.”

The sculpture was given to the museum in memory of Professor Michael Sullivan, who died in September aged 96.

Prof Sullivan, a world authority on 20th century and contemporary Chinese art, began collecting Chinese painting in the 1940s with his wife, Khoan.

The Ashmolean had to reinforce the forecourt floor to make sure it could take the weight of the sculpture, which is three metres tall and weighs two tonnes.

The Ashmolean said the monument is only intended to remain on its forecourt for two years.

After that it will removed, along with the steel bearing plate which holds it in place, and the paving slabs on the forecourt will be replaced.

A decision on whether the sculpture will be given retrospective permission will be made by officers at a later date.