Whitley Bay charity secures grants to move ahead with green transformation
A former job centre building in Whitley Bay is set for a ‘green’ transformation after a charity received grants to buy and renovate it.
Whitley Bay Big Local has been working within the building on Whitley Road for the past two years, running art and community sessions and offering a food collection point throughout lockdown.
And now, thanks to more than £450,000 of funding from the Community Ownership Fund, North of Tyne Combined Authority and Big Local programme, the charity has bought the property and will work with the community to create a low carbon ‘Eco Hub’.
David Carnaffan, CEO of Whitley Bay Big Local, said: "These grants will allow us to be truly ambitious in our vision for transforming the building into a space to inform and inspire local people about climate change, whilst continuing to be a welcoming space to engage local people in arts and community activities.
“As someone who was brought up here in Whitley Bay, it makes me proud to be involved with this fantastic charity and to be helping it move forward in such a positive direction.
“We are all looking forward to the building being an inclusive, green, community space, with something for everyone in Whitley Bay.”
Whitley Bay Big Local is a community-led charity with a focus on the environment and creating activities for people across the town.
Its list of achievements includes the reintroduction of the Whitley Bay Carnival and development of an environmental masterplan for the town.
The new ‘Eco Hub’ will provide improved space for the community activities that already run from the building, which revolve around learning, creativity, food and families.
New facilities will also be added, including a resource hub, low carbon meeting space and energy efficient units for a broad range of community activities
It will continue to house Salto Arts, the organisation behind the Whitley Bay Carnival.
Sarah Sutton, community engagement worker with Whitley Bay Big Local, added: “The refurbishment means that we can really develop the space to continue the great work we already do in the community.
“The space will still be as welcoming, but more flexible to suit the needs of a wider range of community members while really looking towards having less of a negative impact on our environment.
“We will soon be commissioning an architect to work with our building users and us to design a modern, green and inventive place for the community to belong, meet, learn and do.”
Ian Smith, the former owner of the building, said: "I am delighted that Big Local has now purchased our family building on Whitley Road.
“We have owned this building for over 40 years, firstly as a printing works and then as the Job Centre.
“All of the family, who are still local, are over the moon that this building will now be used for the benefit of the local community. We feel it will be a great asset to the town and a wonderful centre point for the local people.”
Whitley Bay Big Local will be consulting the public on what they want from the new building at two events – its AGM on November 20, and the Whitley Bay Fiesta on Sunday, September 5.