FOR SALE: “One 150ft-high hotel room, built to fit around Grey’s Monument. Brand new and in pristine condition. No previous owner. Valued at £140,000 but open to offers. Planning officers need not apply.”

This possible classified ad is only slightly tongue in cheek for the skeleton of the flop Hotel Monument artwork is being put on offer to any takers.

County Durham firm Architectural Steelwork Ltd (ASL) built the steel structure for the partners behind the controversial project, which was refused planning permission last week.

For more than a year it has been sitting in the company’s yard, near Newton Aycliffe waiting to be put up. Newcastle arts organisation Locus+ and the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI) commissioned the company to build the structure, paying them £140,000.

Since the project was given the thumbs down by councillors, ASL’s managing director Rob Whatnell has been faced with the question of what to do with the redundant set of steel scaffolding, which his company still owns.

Rob said: “We’ve made it and it’s just been sitting here in our yard for the last year.

“For the time being we’re going to hang onto it. The last thing we want is to put it in the bin because a lot of money has gone into it. We’re extremely disappointed it’s not going ahead. I think it would have been a big success for the city and something a bit different. And on a business level we got very little in the way of profit from making it, for us it was all about the exposure we would get from the project going ahead.”

Rob and his colleagues have never even seen Hotel Monument fully assembled. Now they want to know if anyone might have a use for it. They’ve suggested that the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival could use it as a lighting rig or that a TV company might like to use it on which to mount their cameras at sporting events. Rob said: “Everyone was very proud of it and was looking forward to seeing it put up. It would be a real injustice if it just went to the scrapyard. We’ve even thought about putting an advert in the classifieds.”

Last week we told how NGI, along with Newcastle City Council, spent nearly £200,000 on Hotel Monument. The artwork was supposed to go on show in 2008 but hit the buffers after problems finalising the details.

The plans for Hotel Monument, including a hotel bedroom with bathroom built on scaffolding 150ft up Grey’s Monument, were put before members of the city council’s development control committee last week after a row over the handling of a decision to grant planning permission via delegated powers last year.

This year councillors were invited to make the decision and voted nine to one against granting planning permission, on the grounds that the structure would not fit into its surroundings.

Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi and Newcastle architects Ryder and structural engineers Faber Maunsell, were behind the designs for Hotel Monument. The scaffolding built by ASL includes a number of tapered, lattice steel columns set out in a square grid and connected with diagonal beams. Each column is more than 36m tall and weighs in at close to eight tonnes.

Article take from the JournalLive