Balustrades could have a future on Whitley Bay promenade

Mayor Norma Redfearn and North Tyneside Council chief executive Patrick Melia at the exhibition showcasing the �36m seafront masterplan.

Mayor Norma Redfearn and North Tyneside Council chief executive Patrick Melia at the exhibition showcasing the �36m seafront masterplan.

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New balustrades could be erected on Whitley Bay’s promenade – if they receive public backing.

North Tyneside Council sparked outrage last month by announcing plans to remove the current structures as part of proposals to reshape and remove the Central Lower Promenade.

An artist's impression of how the existing brick shelter on Northern Promenade could be configured for potential use.

An artist's impression of how the existing brick shelter on Northern Promenade could be configured for potential use.

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the current balustrades – in place since the 1920s – to remain in place.

Ahead of a public exhibition today (Monday) showcasing their £36m masterplan for the seafront, stretching from St Mary’s Island to Cullercoats, council officials confirmed that the balustrades will go, but said they could be replaced by a new set of balustrades – or metal railings, depending on feedback.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said the current structures were past their best as the concrete had started to crumble and break while the metal rods inside were rusting.

She also hit out at the criticism the administration had been receiving, saying the plans to remove the balustrades had been agreed under the previous Mayor and Cabinet.

We’ve looked to see if it is possible to save the balustrades but engineers have told me they cannot be saved.

Mayor Norma Redfearn

Mrs Redfearn said: “We’ve looked to see if it is possible to save the balustrades but engineers have told me they cannot be saved.

“The concrete is crumbling and the metal inside is rusting.

“We’ll ask the public now if they want railings or balustrades or something else.

“We want a coastline of quality. If the public want balustrades stretching all along the seafront then that is what we will consider.”

An artist's impression of how the brick shelter on the Northern Promenade could be removed and replaced with pod-style retail units.

An artist's impression of how the brick shelter on the Northern Promenade could be removed and replaced with pod-style retail units.

Council chief executive Patrick Melia added: “If they public want balustrades we will put balustrades back, just not the current ones as they are past their shelf life.

“We’ve just put some balustrades in Northumberland Park, in North Shields, so it’s easy enough to put them back in.”

He added that although most of the Central Lower Promenade would go, to be replaced by a grass bank, there was still a 100-metre stretch of promenade they had earmarked for food kiosks, pop-up shops and huts.

“This Masterplan should have a dramatic impact on the economy,” said Mr Melia. “People who stay will come for longer and we will attract more visitors and families.”

Other schemes featured in the exhibition include:

• a £2.5m scheme to improve St Mary’s Lighthouse and Island;

• outline proposals to develop brick shelters on Northern Promenade into shop units;

• plans to develop the area around the Rendezvous Cafe;

• details of the second phase of work to improve the Watts Slope area to create a gateway to Northern Promenade;

• proposals for new ‘heritage style’ seating along the coast;

• proposals for day and overnight stay beach huts;

• plans for beach showers;

• plans for the restoration of Grant’s Clock on Central Promenade;

• plans to restore the Coronation Fountain on Northern Promenade.

The council is still considering plans for a ‘land train’ and said a couple of companies had proposed routes and talks were underway over a trial run.

The sessions aim to bring residents, businesses and visitors up to date with progress on these and other projects that are planned or underway at the coast, as well as offer an opportunity for the public to share their views.

Members of the public can see the plans at Whitley Bay’s Customer First Centre, today (Monday) from 2pm until 4pm and Tuesday, July 14, from 10am to 7pm.