Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's a Grey Day; PLAN FOR HOTEL ON TOP OF MOMUMENT FAILS TO GET OFF GROUND

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's a Grey Day; PLAN FOR HOTEL ON TOP OF MOMUMENT FAILS TO GET OFF GROUND

Article excerpt

Byline: By PETER YOUNG Political Editor

IT was billed as a groundbreaking arts showpiece which would be one of Newcastle's star summer attractions.

But plans to build a hotel suite on top of Grey's Monument in the heart of the city have now been shelved until next year.

While there's no guarantee, organisers at the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI) say all the partners remain committed and they are confident the scheme will still go ahead.

Work was due to start this month but finalising details of the pounds 435,000 project have proved trickier than expected and the target date is now the summer of 2009.

One city councillor described the setback as an embarrassment but NGI says major projects of this sort are often delayed and they remain confident it will be a success.

Meanwhile, Newcastle City Council was criticised for failing to put the planning application before councillors on the development control committee for a decision.

Instead, officers granted planning permission, using delegated powers after briefing senior councillors on the controlling Lib Dem executive and local members.

Coun Nick Forbes, a member of the development control committee, said: "This is a Grade I listed building and I've no doubt members would have had a number of pertinent questions to ask. That's our job." Council officers say it is not a major application, using the Government definition, which needs to go to development control. They are satisfied there is no risk of damage and while access would be restricted for six weeks, people could still get through.

Coun Forbes added: "It's disappointing and embarrassing that such a high-profile project which could have brought positive publicity to the North East should encounter these problems." Newcastle City Council Lib Dem leader, Coun John Shipley, said: "I'm surprised the project has not been delivered on time given the long lead in period. I understand there have been a number of complications which have forced the postponem ent." The project is part of the culture10 programme of events managed by NGI and was commissioned by curators, Locus+. …

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