Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's a Monumental Decision to Make; Councillors to Decide on Pounds 500,000 Art

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's a Monumental Decision to Make; Councillors to Decide on Pounds 500,000 Art

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Hunt

SOME think it would be a monumental success. Other a monumental waste of cash. But it is councillors who will have the final decision on Hotel Monument.

Tourism chiefs are hoping it will be second time lucky for the pounds 500,000 piece of public art built 150ft off the ground at the top of Grey's Monument.

But the controversial project needs planning approval if a second attempt to get it off the ground is to succeed.

Last year Newcastle City Council was criticised for failing to put an application for artist Japanese Tatzu Oozu's creation before members of 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.

Plans for the hotel were eventually shelved after problems with finalising details, and the structure was put into storage.

Now regional destination marketing agency the NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) wants to revive it and this year a decision on whether it can go ahead will be taken by the cross party committee, which meets next week.

It says Hotel Monument will bring much needed visitor cash to the region, with around 7,000 getting to go up to the top.

But some think the proposals are a waste of money and there are fears the flagship project, part of the culture10 programme of festivals and events, will not get the green light.

NGI estimates that the direct economic benefit to the area will be more than pounds 1m, with more than pounds 2m generated by widespread media coverage.

Stella Hall, creative director of culture10, said she was confident the plans would get the go-ahead. She said: "It would be a huge disappointment and there would be an economic impact to the region. It's important in a symbolic sense and as part of a wider landscape and heritage programme.

It is a deeply unusual way to engage with our heritage and a unique opportunity to get up close and personal. …

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