Controversial demolition work gets under way

Access improvement work at Watts Slope, Whitley Bay.'REF 0303157830
Access improvement work at Watts Slope, Whitley Bay.'REF 0303157830

A seafront café has been demolished after controversial plans to develop the site moved a step forward.

The popular Boardwalk Café at Watts Slope in Whitley Bay, was only a pile of rubble at the beginning of the week.

Campaigners had fought to save the building from demolition, part of North Tyneside Council’s £30m plan for the coast.

But despite more than 2,000 people signing a petition to save the facility, the council moved ahead with the work which they say will improve access to the Northern Promenade at Watts Slope.

Work to remove the former cafe is expected to take six weeks and once complete the council say it will create a new gateway to the promenade and coastline, opening up views to St Mary’s Lighthouse.

A council spokesperson said: “Demolishing this poorly designed 1970’s building is considered an essential part of delivering the enhancements that people have told the council are needed to improve the area.”

Under the plans, the entrance to the promenade will be widened while a new kiosk will provide beach refreshments, as well as the existing Rendezvous Café and ‘Rainbow Corner’ businesses.

The nearby toilets will be remodelled to create modern, accessible facilities and beach showers will be installed while other improvements planned include a new lighting scheme from Watts Slope to the Rendezvous Café, so the stretch of the promenade can also be enjoyed in the evening.

Resurfacing, railings and ramps will also be installed and proposals for outdoor gym equipment, running markers, new promenade shelters and seating have been put forward.

Council chief executive Patrick Melia said: “North Tyneside is the destination of choice for around 5.8 million visitors each year, bringing £268m into the borough and supporting around 4,000 jobs.

“More than 2,000 people have viewed the £30m Masterplan proposals so far and have liked what they see.

“We carefully considered all the facts before a decision was made about the future of the cafe.

“It has been demonstrated that a café of this type in this particular area isn’t commercially viable – previous tenants at this location have struggled to maintain their businesses successfully.

“This area has the potential to be a significant leisure resource and when our work is complete, Whitley Bay will have a seafront to be proud of.

“As well as the stunning coastline and views it will have exceptional facilities that will attract more business, more investment and more visitors to North Tyneside.”