Revised plans are submitted for lighthouse

A revised artist's impression showing how St Mary's Lighthouse could look.
A revised artist's impression showing how St Mary's Lighthouse could look.

Fresh plans to safeguard the future of the iconic St Mary’s Lighthouse have been submitted.

North Tyneside Council has worked with its partners to review the scheme following issues raised by the planning committee when the originalproposals were rejected in November.

The revised designs include restoring all lighthouse facilities, addressing the environmental concerns raised by the committee and no longer include open-top viewing decks or a glass-covered first-floor viewing area.

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, said: “We fully understand the importance of this scheme to the borough – the lighthouse and island is an iconic, precious natural habitat that has been loved for generations.

“We are committed to our responsibility to the island and preserving its natural habitat. It is vital that we balance this against the need to make improvements and carry out repairs.

“Since beginning our journey to safeguard the future of the site, the importance of coming up with a scheme that improves visitors’ experiences while ensuring that wildlife is protected and continues to thrive has been at the heart of our thinking. We have listened carefully to the concerns raised by the public and planning committee and our new proposals reflect this.”

The council and its partners are bidding to secure £2.1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry out vital repairs to the Grade II listed lighthouse and former keeper’s cottages.

Development funding of £164,300 was awarded by HLF, thanks to National Lottery players, in May 2016 and the final bid for the remaining money has been deferred subject to the outcome of the revised planning application.

The new plans have been drawn up in partnership with appointed designers Beaumont Brown Architects and include: Rebuilding the original optic; expanding and improving educational facilities; upgrading toilet facilities; increasing the size of the shop; improved and updated visitor interpretation; and new lifts providing access to all floors.

The proposals also include repairs to the causeway and existing walls and gates, new surfacing and refurbishing the bird hide.

The project is part of the council’s £36million Seafront Master Plan for Whitley Bay to breathe new life into the stretch of coastline between Cullercoats Bay and St Mary’s Island.