A new seafront hotel aiming to bring visitors and tourists back to Whitley Bay has been approved.
National chain Premier Inn is looking to create 69 new jobs with a 68-bed hotel and restaurant next to the Spanish City Dome.
Construction on the site, part of the Whitley Bay seafront masterplan involving Robertson Construction, is expected to start thie Spring and be completed early 2017.
Members of North Tyneside Council’s planning committee voted 11-3 in favour of the plans.
However, objections were raised about the need for another hotel in the town and the appearance of the building.
Pamela Hood, of the New Beginnings campaign group, said: “Many Whitley Bay residents, in particular the proprietors of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, feel the provision of additional overnight accommodation in a town which is still largely devoid of tourist attractions puts the cart before the horse.
“However, though sympathising with this view, we agree that even the proposed topsy-turvy approach is preferable to leaving our prime seafront location looking like a bomb-site.
“We are particularly concerned the proposed building ignores the local characteristics and distinctiveness of Whitley Bay.”
“Residents want to see a building which echoes and supports the visual ‘wow’ factor of the Dome.”
But the committee was told that the council’s Historic Buildings Officer recommended the building be of red brick instead of white render, being influenced by nearby Victorian houses and to contrast from the Dome.
Stephen McGhee, of lma (Lawrence McPherson Associates) architects, said they had spent seven months working on the plans, consulting with residents and the council.
He added: “The council’s historical buildings officer said the site should not be white render and be of contrasting materials for it to stand out.
“It is part of £15m investment over the next 25 years by Premier Inn. It will bring visitors to the town, benefiting local business.
“It will provide jobs as well as investment.”
The committee was told: “The application will restore active frontage along the promenade.
“It will regenerate an area of vacant and derelict land and fill in an obvious gap on the seafront. It will improve the character of the site and surrounding area.”
Concerns were raised as the hotel would only have four disabled parking spaces, with guests having to use nearby car parks.
However, committee chairman Coun Tommy Mulvenna said: “Parking is down the list of issues as far as I am concerned.
“The main issue around the building is the red brick and that is the advice from the historical buildings officer.
“This is a more expensive building than was originally planned. It will probably last a lot longer now.”
After the meeting, Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I am thrilled to welcome Premier Inn to Whitley Bay.
“This fantastic project will bring new jobs into the borough, and is a sign of confidence in North Tyneside as a place to do business.
“Once Spanish City Dome is fully restored it will offer weddings, fine dining and events. The Premier Inn hotel will be the ideal place for guests to stay, and I am sure it will help to attract more visitors to our beautiful coastline.
“The hotel is a key part of our Seafront Master Plan and local people will be as excited as I am to see the next step in the regeneration of Whitley Bay take place.”
Kevin Murray, Head of Acquisitions (North) for Premier Inn, said: “We are delighted our new Whitley Bay Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre restaurant have been granted planning permission.
“Whitley Bay is a fantastic location and, as well as attracting new visitors to the area, the hotel and restaurant will create new year-round jobs for the local economy and deliver fresh investment. We look forward to working with our development partner and opening our doors to the public in early 2017.”