With the Boardwalk now demolished, despite thousands of protests from within North Tyneside and beyond, the focus now falls on plans to replace the central promenade at Whitley Bay with a grass embankment.
Strangely, an independent engineer’s report to the council considered this the worst of ten development options considered, because, a) it did not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA); b) it made access to the sewer difficult; c) potential revenue from the existing retail units would be lost; and d) this option would involve the loss of not one but two promenades.
The best option, according to this independent report, was to retain and strengthen the promenade and refurbish the units.
This would, a) afford additional protection to the sewer; b) preclude any additional expensive work on the sea wall; c) afford potential revenue from the refurbished units; d) maintain vehicle access to the lower promenade; e) provide straightforward access to grouting works on mine; and f) reduce maintenance costs.
The report concluded that “This scheme probably comes closest to what the client requires”.
Clearly they did not know their client.
With their usual talent for inviting expensive problems in the future (the use of what must be ‘the cheapest paint’ on the Dome), North Tyneside has decided to plump for the option which, according to the report, poses ‘major issues’.
The sole concession made to objections to the proposed embankment - the inclusion of a DDA-compliant ramp - refuses to acknowledge the obvious benefits of restoring commercial life to an area which its negligence, over many years, has allowed to deteriorate into its present sorry state.
The same arguments for demolishing the central promenade - that it is in poor repair, under-used and unattractive to possible tenants of the units - were put forward five years ago to urge the destruction of the lower promenade in Brighton.
Those arguments were resisted, and that same stretch of promenade is now busy with artists’ studios, cafés and restaurants.
Apparently we have been ‘consulted’ on this issue. I don’t remember being asked.
Everybody who would like to see some life returned to the seafront, please visit the Whitley Bay Lower Central Promenade Community online (search ‘Whitley Bay Central Lower Promenade’ on Facebook) and let our unloved authority know what you feel about this.