Some of the plans not regeneration

In response to the letter from ‘Name and address supplied’ under the title ‘Let the council get on with their plans’ (News Guardian, April 16).

I agree with the fact that a lot of plans to regenerate Whitley Bay have been delayed and cancelled because of petitions and I would wish for nothing more than the coast to be regenerated and to trust them to just get on with it, but surely one has to then question why so many people are petitioning in the first place?

I suspect it could have a lot to do with the fact that some of these plans cannot be described as ‘regeneration’ at all.

A quick Google search will tell you regeneration means: ‘Bring new and more vigorous life to (an area, industry, institution, etc.); revive, especially in economic terms’.

The plans for Central Lower Promenade are therefore not regeneration but merely an opportunity to get rid of what the writer described as a ‘hazard to the town’ – not the words I would use to describe a 100-year-old structure that forms a significant part of Whitley Bay’s heritage, never mind looking at why they are in their current state in the first place.

They have massive potential on Whitley Bay’s only true asset - the seafront. Surely all proposed plans should be about bringing new and more vigorous life to the beach?

I did attend the event described and would normally be the first one to encourage proposals for regeneration and improvements to Whitley Bay.

I agree with the principle of a master plan, rather than piecemeal, random and ad-hoc ‘improvements’. For me the problem is why can’t we have some aspiration?

We’ll never have everyone agreeing everything but rather than ... this is the budget and you have to be grateful for whatever you get ... why can’t we aim high and try to get the best we can, even if we have to make some compromises along the way?

The event described was not a consultation opportunity in respect of these plans. I was encouraged by many of the proposals put forward at the event, but not only was this scheme hidden away, it was very much a finished design.

Any comments at that time would not have made any difference at all, as demonstrated by the fact that I did comment on the plans at the exhibition, only after having had the scheme pointed out to me.

Naively, I thought it was at consultation stage and I asked could they please consider other options, it is a 100-year-old heritage asset – aim high. The applicant’s response is contained within the planning application – which basically says they have considered other options and discounted them – in 2011.

The current Central Lower Promenade scheme has been a flawed decision making process – in 2011 a group of officers got together and decided not to keep the units so the option of a grass embankment was pursued – against the principle being actually recommended for rejection.

There have been a number of reasons now raised for this decision, mainly based on old mine workings that may or may not be there, and with mine remediation works being actually recommended with this grass bank option in any event.

It is not the ‘best thing that can happen to have it filled in’.

In my opinion it is a very expensive, dangerous and poorly designed, inaccessible hill, that includes an unsightly clash of hard landscaping materials to the Spanish city plaza and that in years to come, people will no doubt wonder, whatever possessed us to do it!

Lucy Harland

Whitley Bay