Derelict hotel is a ‘huge millstone’

PLEASE ACT: Donington residents want to see the Red Cow Hotel restored or the site cleared and turned into a car park. SG131014-132TW
PLEASE ACT: Donington residents want to see the Red Cow Hotel restored or the site cleared and turned into a car park. SG131014-132TW

Some say the Red Cow is such a wreck that it should be knocked down before it falls down.

Others feel it could be restored but say its listed building status means the cost is beyond anyone’s pocket.

District council leader Gary Porter is spearheading a drive to tidy up South Holland’s blots on the landscape and the Red Cow is on the hit list suggested by ward councillors.

Donington ward councillor Jane King says one option would be to keep the facade and put a car park behind.

She said if it were de-listed, it would be easier for the Red Cow to be re-developed as owners come and go without carrying out renovation work because rules on listed buildings are so strict,

The three-storey hotel is so ruined that you can walk in and see the sky and look down into the cellar because floors and ceilings are missing.

Coun King said: “I would say to make it safe – just the floors and ceilings – would cost three-quarters-of-a-million and that’s prior to redeveloping it.

“There’s bits falling off it. Kids get in it and they’re getting injured in there. It’s like a rite of passage – they try to see how high up they can go without falling through the floors.”

Dorothy Short and husband Michael moved to a High Street house opposite the Red Cow in 1999 when it was still a pub and saw it used in 2002 to house gang workers.

Mrs Short said: “It was still a nice pub then but now it’s an absolute eyesore. It needs pulling down. I don’t know why it’s listed. Donington is quite a thriving little village – nobody can ever park anywhere – and I think the site would make a beautiful car park.”

Parish council chairman Peter Lorimer said: “It’s a huge millstone for Donington. It’s not doing anything for the village at all.”

He said the parish council had met several owners of the Red Cow since it closed and discussed their redevelopment plans.

Coun Lorimer said: “On at least one occasion, it has appeared that work was imminent, but each time progress has stalled.

“Apparent frustrating intransigence from council planning departments has seen owners abandon plans for the site with conservation and heritage issues seeming to derail the project at critical points.

“We support this new drive to get a large site, important to the historic setting of the village, back into use – but feel this is something that should have, and could have, been started years ago.

“Chances have been missed, and in that time the state of the building has considerably worsened.”

Coun Porter said: “I just want whatever’s there to stop being an eyesore and to be of some use to the community. If it was turned back into a pub/hotel, it would help the local economy – if it was turned into housing, it would deal with the housing shortage.”

He said unless people ask English Heritage for the Red Cow to be de-listed, there is limited scope on what can be done.

Coun Porter said the district council planning department hadn’t been intransigent over heritage issues, but past owners didn’t appear to have “the requisite skills and knowledge to deal appropriately with a listed building”.