Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No progress in developing Saltburn's Foreshore Building

Local businessman Harry Meckiffe is furious at an apparent lack of progress in the successful utilization and use of Saltburn's Lower Promenade building. Mr Meckiffe opened a kite and extreme sports equipment shop in one of the building's commercial units in 2004. More than three years later his business is standing firm, but a restaurant and community room are still not open and another season has come and gone. Although the council says it is doing all it can to realise the buildings full potential Mr Meckiffe disagrees and he has even withheld rent from Redcar and Cleveland Council, claiming the terms of his lease aren’t being followed.
Mr Meckiffe, who is also a personal fitness trainer, has expressed his dismay at the fact that so little is being done with the building. “It costs more to maintain this way than if they got the place running properly. You’ve got a building here that looks derelict half the time. One visitor thought it was a water treatment works. At no point in its history have all the shutters been up and the building fully open.”
Mr Meckiffe chairs the Saltburn Foreshore Committee. The committee want the council to open the building, improve seafront maintenance and put some effort into development of the foreshore. As part of this remit Mr Meckiffe has contacted the Audit Commission over the lack of progress - a constant complaint since the building, originally costing £570,000, was mooted by the now defunct Saltburn Improvement Company in the late 1990s. Construction work was completed in 2002 but since then, funding and legal wrangles and even a water leak from the adjacent hillside have hampered progress.
The council’s Cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, Councillor Sheelagh Clarke, sympathised but said the authority was “doing all within its power to progress the situation so businesses within the building can thrive commercially”.
She explained the proposed restaurant was originally given a domestic gas supply “inadequate for the purpose of opening a restaurant”. British Gas is now due to fit the correct supply on October 20. The restaurant operator is also seeking planning permission to alter the unit’s fa├žade.
She said the building would be cleaned and painted during the first week in October - work which will hopefully help secure a commercial operator for the currently vacant third commercial unit.

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