HOTEL: Vote shows need for coastal council

Well, we tried. At North Tyneside’s planning committee meeting on Tuesday, February 16, once again the hopes of Whitley Bay residents who have repeatedly attempted to have a say in the development of the seafront area of the town centre were dashed.

Questions to the architect made it clear to us that the opinions of North Tyneside’s historic buildings officer dictated the design of the proposed Premier Inn hotel next to the Spanish City Dome.

And majority-party councillors followed this lead, disregarding the overwhelming thumbs-down the public have given to the style of the building, which was roundly rejected in 50 online comments, as well as in the many hand-written and vocal objections received in the wake of September’s and December’s presentations. These councillors seemingly aren’t interested in what these people think.

The first design for the hotel might well have been accepted if it hadn’t been for the historic buildings officer’s interpretation of national planning guidelines.

We have every sympathy with the architects, who have produced design after design over a period of more than six months in order to satisfy the officer’s views.

What a waste of time, money and effort when the first design they produced would not only have been more acceptable to the public, but perfectly compatible with the National Planning Policy Framework.

A request to the committee politely asking them to put political allegiances to one side when making their decision was rejected by the chairman, who implied that it was wrong to suggest that members were anything short of impartial.

Well, guess what? The vote which followed divided along party-political lines.

The fact that these votes result in long-term, and frequently irreversible, damage to the infrastructure and amenities of our seaside town makes a local council for the six coastal wards even more of a pressing issue.

Reasoning with our councillors appears to be a dead end. They simply take the word of the officials and put the backing of the ruling party behind it. Petitions are equally useless, even when they are signed by thousands.

We will get nowhere until we have a local council consisting of democratically elected representatives who owe their loyalty not to any political party, but to the coastal communities: people with the time and expertise to scrutinise North Tyneside’s plans well before they are finalised and lobby at an early stage on our behalf.

At ‘A New Beginning’ we are committed to establishing a town council for the coast which would do just that.

The address of a website keeping you up-to-date with our progress will be announced in the near future.

Pamela Hood

Gillian Swanson

For ‘A New Beginning’