The possibility has been raised of screening the derelict remains of the former Robin Hood Hotel from the eyes of a television audience when the Tour Of Britain cycle race comes to Newark.
The site has planning consent from Newark and Sherwood District Council for a hotel, but the Government has been asked to consider calling that decision in as the townhouses that remain are listed for protection.
The minutes of the council’s economic development committee meeting on June 21 say members noted information about the Tour Of Britain and sought clarification on a number of issues.
In a summary of those issues, the minutes said: “The issue of the Robin Hood Hotel was being looked into as to how this could be made aesthetically acceptable.”
The Advertiser understands the council is considering the possibility of screening the hotel from the road and television cameras.
The council has refused to comment on what, if anything, was being considered, who would pay for it as the hotel site is privately owned, and why it had now been raised.
The owner, M.F. Strawson, had hoped to start work on site this month after planning consent was granted in February.
The chairman of the council’s leisure and environment committee, Mr Roger Jackson, said he was unclear as to what could be done to mask the remains, but it was important that Newark looked its best.
“I don’t know if anything will come of it,” he said.
“The Robin Hood is a blot on the landscape for many.
“I don’t think anything physically can be done with it but we may be able to disguise it a wee bit.
“The race will be streamed to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.
“It is fantastic for Newark for a stage of the Tour Of Britain to be coming here and I hope that those who come and watch it will return again and again.”
The leader of the council, Mr Roger Blaney, said: “We did grant a planning application in February to demolish the remains of the Robin Hood Hotel and replace it with a 66-bed hotel which, we were advised, would be operated by Travelodge.
“Newark MP Robert Jenrick and others asked the secretary of state to call in that decision and the secretary of state is considering that request.
“That consideration has been held up by the purdah part of the county council elections and further by the purdah part of the General Election campaign.
“Five months after that decision by a democratically-elected committee we have an approved planning application in place but are waiting to hear if the application will be called in or whether the decision of the council’s planning committee will stand.
“There is understandable frustration that the situation is allowed to continue.
“It is regrettable that the planning application has not moved ahead.”
A spokesman for M.F. Strawson said no formal approach had been made by the council to do anything with the Robin Hood Hotel.
Mr Jenrick said he had hoped for a decision on whether the application was going to be called in before now.
He said he would support any effort to mask the hotel for the bike race.
“It is an appalling blot on the landscape when the rest of the fabric of the town is largely good,” he said.
“It often takes an event to galvanise people into action. It happened at the Olympics in London where empty shops and derelict land was covered to make the city more attractive.
“The Robin Hood situation has been allowed to continue for far too long.
“We now look to a swift conclusion, but the right one and one that isn’t to the detriment of the rest of the town.”