Song lyrics will make an imprint in £1.9m coast investment

An artist's impression of how the public piazza in front of Whitley Bay's Spanish City Dome could look.
An artist's impression of how the public piazza in front of Whitley Bay's Spanish City Dome could look.

AN ICONIC landmark is set to become a focal point for visitors again thanks to some Dire help.

Whitley Bay’s Spanish City Dome is to benefit from a £1.9m funding boost from the Coastal Communities Fund, which aims to support the sustainable economic development of coastal communities.

North Tyneside Council has earmarked the cash to create a new public piazza in front on the Dome, to link the building to the seafront.

And with the permission of north east songwriter, and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, the lyrics of his Tunnel of Love song – which immortalised the Spanish City’s amusement park history – will be etched into the promenade as part of the landscaping.

Mayor Linda Arkley said: “It’s fantastic that this award from the Coastal Communities Fund will now mean we can deliver a scheme to help put Whitley Bay’s Dome back on the map for visitors.

“It will fund the public realm improvements, made possible by diverting the seafront road around the back of the Dome, that will link the Dome and the seafront, creating a high quality focal point for the public to enjoy the Whitley Bay coast and providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy open-air events.

“And with Mark Knopfler’s agreement we are going to incorporate the words of the Tunnel of Love into the pavement design, so it can be part of the future for the Spanish City site.”

Plans have been drawn up to create an area in front of the Spanish City site to be used for open-air events and provide an informal leisure area for residents and visitors to enjoy the coast.

The coastal grant will also support the creation of a new heritage centre at North Shields Fish Quay, led by a local community group, to provide a new visitor attraction as well as a community café, exhibition space and activity programme.

The bid also included investment in improving the water sports facilities at Priors Haven in partnership with Tynemouth Rowing Club and Tynemouth Sailing Club, plus improvement works to the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade building to improve their museum.

However, that part of the bid was not approved.

Council officials will now work with the three organisations to explore other funding opportunities for the works to the buildings.

The bid by North Tyneside Council was one of four in the north east announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles on Monday.

Mr Pickles said: “It’s a missed opportunity if we don’t tap into the huge potential our coastal towns have to welcome new industries and to diversify their economies so they can become year-round success stories.

“We’ve seen enormous enthusiasm for this government fund and had to make some difficult choices but the projects we’ve chosen will create thousands of jobs and help many start-up businesses.

“This money will help these towns tap into new business opportunities that will create jobs and boost skills that will benefit the whole community.”