Church hall to make a splash as new pool

The Mission Hall, in Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay, which is to be turned into a swimming pool.
The Mission Hall, in Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay, which is to be turned into a swimming pool.

A former church hall is set to make a splash after being given a new lease of life.

An application to turn the former Mission Hall, in Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay, into a swimming pool and cafe have been given the green light despite concerns from local residents.

Members of North Tyneside Council’s planning committee approved the plans on Tuesday, saying it would provide a vital service and give an empty building a new lease of life.

The proposals, by Marc Dining, are for the swimming pool to operate 12 hours a week on an appointment only basis for up to eight children at a time to learn how to swim.

He told the committee: “I’m a local resident, I have lived in Whitley Bay for over 20 years.

“As we live next to the sea, I think it is essential that children learn to swim. When I was getting my children swimming lessons, we had to go outside the borough.

“We are trying to bring an old building back into use.”

But the application received 24 letters of objection, with concerns about the impact on the community and lack of car parking.

Local resident Jean Laurie said: “Residents in Coquet Avenue are keen to see development at this hall but we are concerned about this.

“This is a residential street. We are concerned about the increased parking. The nearby car parks at the Playhouse and Whitley Park are already busy or full.”

Speaking in favour of the application, Coun Jim Allan said: “It’s important that Whitley Bay picks itself up and dusts itself down.

“There was probably more activity when this was a church hall. It’s a worthwhile project we should support.”

Coun Carl Johnson added: “It brings a vacant building back into use and that is what we’re here to do.

“There is no single planning reason to vote against this.”

Whitley Bay ward councillor John O’Shea criticised the plans.

He said: “I’m not convinced about the change of use.

“I’m concerned there could be potential noise in the locality.

“People will drive here and park at the nearest spot. There will be more problems in Coquet Avenue where there is already significant car parking problems.”