Gazette readers have had their say over a businessman’s frustration over the “red tape” he claims to be tangled in while trying to transform a landmark South Tyneside hotel.
Terry Maughan, who owns the Marsden Grotto, in South Shields, says he is unlikely to take on new projects in the borough because of the bureaucratic hoops he claims he is having to jump through.
Council chiefs, however, say the environmentally sensitive site and any changes have to be the subject of consultations.
The row has flared over what Mr Maughan says are ‘unnecessary changes’ to his plans to build a permanent stone gazebo at the landmark pub and hotel.
It would see part of the existing stone terrace extended onto Marsden beach and a slice of the protective sea wall remodelled.
Mr Maughan, 51, has now been asked to revise his original gazebo plan and he says he’s now unlikely to take on any more projects in the borough.
The owners within reason should be able to do what they want.Chris Barron
Many Gazette readers backed Mr Maughan’s plight.
Chris Barron said: “The owners, within reason, should be to do what they want to make the place a sustainable success - how many owners has the Grotto had since it opened. Do we want the council to end up having to buy it?”
Stephen Moran wrote: “It’s not as if the bloke was intending to blow up half of Marsden cliffs is it (the Grotto has undergone many changes over the years so I can’t see how this small change would be a big problem either) and now he’s pulled out of any further investments in our town, well done everyone involved.”
David Gray said: “A few years ago I walked along Marsden beach and the Grotto was boarded up, run down and dilapidated.
“Very sad sight seeing a lovely place in such state. Now the present owner has breathed new life into the building - bringing jobs and visitors to the venue.”
Mark Beadle could see the point of both parties concerned.
He stated: “I can appreciate the problem. It does after all lie on a National Trust area. I don’t think small plans like this should be a problem. As for people complaining about the beach. I’m there quite a lot and trust me it barely gets used.”
Elaine Francis added: “For once, I’m on the side of the council here. This site needs to be protected. It’s great that this guy has developed the business, but when it encroaches on a heritage site and has a potential impact on the flora, fauna and wildlife then there’s just no need.”