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Major blow to council’s plans for lighthouse

An artist's impression of the revised plans for St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay.
An artist's impression of the revised plans for St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay.

A project to re-develop an iconic Whitley Bay landmark has suffered a significant setback.

North Tyneside Council submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £2.1million that would enable the local authority to refurbish St Mary’s Lighthouse and improve facilities at the site.

Revised plans for the scheme were given the green light in April, but the funding bid has now been turned down.

An extract from a letter it received from the HLF is as follows: ‘Demand for our funds means that we cannot support every good application that achieves the outcomes of this programme.

‘Our Board of Trustees had to take decisions on more projects than the available budget would allow and your application was rejected due to insufficient funds.’

Last year, plans to refurbish the lighthouse and build an open-air viewing platform were refused over concerns about their effect on seals and birdlife.

The approved revisions took away the open-top viewing decks and glass-covered first-floor viewing area. The project also includes improvements to toilets and facilities for school trips.

Phil Scott, head of environment, housing and leisure at the council, said: “Naturally, we’re extremely disappointed with the outcome as we had presented a strong and robust bid to the HLF committee.

“However, we know how important the lighthouse is to local residents, and as an asset to the borough, and we will continue to explore other options to secure the funding we need to carry out the repairs needed to safeguard its future.

“We’d like to thank all the officers involved, and our partners, for their work in preparing the bid and getting to this stage.”