£36m vision for seafront is formally approved

How the St Mary's Headland Cafe could look - looking out towards the lighthouse.
How the St Mary's Headland Cafe could look - looking out towards the lighthouse.

A £36m vision for the regeneration of Whitley Bay seafront has been given the go-ahead.

Cabinet members at North Tyneside Council gave their support to the Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan, which sets out the regeneration of the Spanish City site and nearby seafront.

Mayor Norma Redfearn has welcomed the decision, saying the £36m plan is “very close to the hearts of most people, not just in Whitley Bay, but also in the wider borough”.

Nearly 560 people viewed the plans when they were on display last year while more than 1,500 people have viewed it online.

Mrs Redfearn said: “We cannot delay any longer and must take this forward, within the funding available and the timescales set.

“We will get on and deliver this project just as the majority of people want us to do and will deliver a coastline that we can all be very proud of.”

I am confident that in a couple of years time, when people can see the changes, they will be very proud.

Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn

She added: “Just because it’s a different Whitley Bay it can also be better. As I drive along the seafront and see the Highpoint down, the Avenue nearly down, and the Boardwalk down, I know there are exciting alternative plans in place. I am confident that in a couple of years time, when people can see the changes, they will be very proud.”

The Master Plan sets out a programme of regeneration from the southern lower promenade to St Mary’s Lighthouse, involving a mix of council-funded schemes and private developments.

Among the plans are a £1m visitor centre development at St Mary’s headland, improve the Watts Slope area, the future of the Spanish City Dome, promenade improvements, landscaping, extra lighting and more.

However, suggestions the Empress Ballroom be demolished have been ruled out as it is a Grade II listed building while proposals to extend St Mary’s headland would cost too much.

The Master Plan does include the necessary demolition of the Central Lower Promenade, which was not constructed to modern day standards and is at the end of its lifetime, and will be replaced by a new grassed bank and a sea wall.

In addition, the current commercial units on the promenade have been vacant and semi derelict for many years and an independent study in 2011 confirmed a like-for-like replacement would have involved a cost of around £10m.

The Lower Promenade scheme will provide a new structure to create a robust sea defence designed to protect against increasingly adverse sea conditions, which will last for 120 years.

As it is a strategic sea defence the £3.35m scheme has attracted a £1.2m grant from DEFRA, plus a £850,000 contribution from Northumbrian Water and £1.2m from the Council.

Another structure which will be removed due to its poor state of repair will be the concrete shelters, which date back to the 1920s.

Mrs Redfearn added: “Whitley Bay Master Plan sets a clear vision for delivering the things residents have told us are important to them and will enable North Tyneside Council and its partners to invest over £36m in the regeneration of the Whitley Bay seafront.

“The Spanish City Dome site is its focal point , but the overall scheme works provides new retail units, cafes and other facilities for visitors and residents, and aims for a high quality and fit for purpose environment for everyone to enjoy for many years to come “