WORK is under way on Whitley Bay’s controversial new joint service centre bringing the town’s library and other public services under one roof.
North Tyneside Council and Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade believe the multi-million-pound centre will provide a big boost for businesses as it will bring more people into the town centre.
Representatives of North Tyneside Council and developers Robertson North East and the Newcastle and North Tyneside Lift Company (NNT Lift Co) were on hand to see work begin on the York Road site on Monday.
The centre – expected to open in spring 2013 – will offer a range of services delivered by the council, North Tyneside Primary Care Trust and Northumbria Police.
It is one of two major projects in the town being worked on by Robertson North East as it is also the preferred developer for the redevelopment of the Spanish City Dome.
Borough mayor Linda Arkley said: “I am delighted that this prime project is now under way.
“I know how important this is for residents and for local businesses.
“By bringing a range of services together under one roof, it will help encourage more people into the town centre and that can only be good news for everyone.”
Andy McLeod, managing director for Robertson North East, said: “We have been working with North Tyneside Council for a number of years on the Whitley Bay Joint Service Centre project and are delighted to get started on site.
“I was born and brought up in Whitley Bay so, as a local boy, it’s great to see this project finally coming to fruition.”
Russell Taylor, operations director at NNT Lift Co, said; “This is a major step forward for Whitley Bay’s largest regeneration scheme and great news for the local community.
“We are very excited to deliver this important project, which will regenerate Whitley Bay.”
When completed, the building will include a new library split over two floors, tourist information centre, customer services suite with play area and rent and council tax payment counters.
Among other council services earmarked for the building are an adult social care team dedicated to working with older people and the disabled.
There will also be a self-contained primary care service suite and community rooms and event spaces for residents and groups to rent.
Jobcentre Plus is also considering moving into the new building.
The initial plans were rejected last year by members of the council’s planning committee by an 11-10 majority after concerns were raised about access and parking at the site.
However, NNT Lift Co launched an appeal, backed by the chamber of trade, and a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents and traders was also submitted.
And following an appeal hearing earlier this year, the plans were given the green light, leaving the council facing a potential £10,000 bill for costs.