Council plans to demolish cafe to improve views

The Boardwalk Cafe at Whitley Bay.'REF 1308143951
The Boardwalk Cafe at Whitley Bay.'REF 1308143951

A popular seafront cafe is to be demolished under plans to improve the appearance of the area.

North Tyneside Council has unveiled the next phase of work to regenerate the Spanish City Dome and seafront at Whitley Bay.

And plans to improve the northern promenade will see the recently refurbished Boardwalk Cafe building at Watts Slope being removed to improve the views towards St Mary’s Lighthouse and provide a gateway along the prom.

The local authority said there will be new seating, modern lighting and extra bins on the promenade while a new seafront kiosk will replace the cafe to offer refreshments for beach users.

The cafe – which becomes a restaurant on an evening – has recently been redecorated inside and the decision to demolish it has sparked shock and sadness with customers.

One customer said: “I am really sad.

“This is arguably the best site along the coast here at Whitley Bay, sitting in the sun in the morning one could pretend one was sitting on the western Algarve in Portugal.

“My friends and I have spent many a happy evening here in the past six years or so.”

A council spokesperson said attempts to work with previous tenants of the cafe to make the business viable had proven unsuccessful, but that existing commitments for weddings and party bookings to the first weekend in September would be honoured.

Work is also taking place for the council to take ownership of the former Empress Ballroom from Carlton Bingo.

The council has been working with Carlton Clubs Ltd since 2008 to reach an agreement of some areas of the site.

Now the authority is issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the building to ensure it has full ownership of the Dome site before submitting its Stage 2 bid for a £3.6m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We are delighted to announce the next stage in our plans to further improve the seafront at Whitley Bay and deliver a successful future for the town.

“This is another important milestone in our work to build on the heritage and character of the town whilst delivering the essential improvements that are needed to make sure Whitley Bay is an attractive and appealing visitor destination.”

Meanwhile, work is continuing towards restoring and re-opening the Spanish City Dome for use and a number of potential tenants have already expressed significant interest in the retail units at the Dome.

The council is working with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund to bring the iconic coastal landmark back into use for the benefit of the local community, and hopes to see restoration completed by 2016.

The planned restoration work will include reinstating some of the Dome’s lost architectural features such as the tower tops, which date back to 1910.

Work will also include the creation of up to five ground floor retail or cafe units to the front of the building. The first floor will also feature a variety of new commercial and leisure uses with spectacular elevated sea views towards St Mary’s Lighthouse.

Mrs Redfearn added: “We are doing all we can to get this iconic building back into use as soon as possible and will take any necessary steps to secure its future.

“A restored and re-opened Spanish City Dome is integral to our regeneration plans for the town, and will bring huge benefits to residents, visitors and businesses in Whitley Bay - including Carlton Bingo.”