Whilst I don’t wish to knock North Tyneside Council over its recently-released Whitley Bay Masterplan, there is one element of the plan which is deeply concerning to me; namely the proposed café and visitor centre at St Mary’s headland.
As the council is no doubt aware (and states itself on its website), St Mary’s headland is of national ornithological interest and boasts numerous designations and protections, being part of a larger Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Site of Nature Conservation Interest, a Ramsar designated site and a Local Nature Reserve to name a few.
Any development on the headland is likely to tip the already delicate balance in the area to the detriment of the very special wildlife that resides there, or passes through it, and therefore should not even be contemplated.
This leads to a question: Why has the council spent time and money formulating this proposal when surely it must recognise that it faces significant barriers to ever being realised – in terms of both the statutory obligations placed upon the local authority and public resistance?
Setting aside the wildlife concerns, surely the £1million to £1.5million earmarked for the development would have a greater impact if spent closer to the heart of the seafront, where the bulk of the investment is to be made, not at St Mary’s where it simply isn’t needed?
And the best way to enjoy the view from St Mary’s is as nature intended – with as few buildings obscuring the view as possible.
Wasn’t this after all one of the reasons cited by the council for the demolition of the Boardwalk café?
I urge North Tyneside Council to remove this proposal from the masterplan as quickly as possible.