Support grows to save seafront balustrades

Brenda Sokell and Caz Lamb with other residents who want to keep the balustrades at Whitley Bay.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Brenda Sokell and Caz Lamb with other residents who want to keep the balustrades at Whitley Bay.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Nearly 2,000 people have backed calls for part of Whitley Bay’s seafront history to remain in place, despite work in the area due to start this week.

Some residents have hit out at North Tyneside Council’s plans to remove the balustrades overlooking Whitley Bay beach as part of the proposals to demolish the lower promenade.

We won’t be able to replace these exact balustrades once work is complete

Mayor Norma Redfearn

And the Save Our Balustrades (SOB) group is appealing to Mayor Norma Redfearn to save the features – which date from around the 1920s.

Last Sunday, campaigners gathered at the balustrades for their second peaceful protest, handing out leaflets and gathering signatures for their petition.

More than 1,970 people have so far signed an online petition at www.change.org while support has also grown in Facebook groups.

Caz Lamb, one of the organisers, said: “We aren’t against regeneration, we want Whitley Bay brought up to date, but we want to keep iconic features and be sympathetic to the history.

“It’s heartbreaking.”

A two-day public exhibition is taking place next week in Whitley Bay to showcase the £36m seafront masterplan.

The council will showcase the various schemes on July 13 and 14, at Whitley Bay Customer First Centre.

A number of key schemes will feature, including work to reshape Central Lower Promenade – which is scheduled to start this week.

As part of that essential scheme, engineers working on the project will need to remove the existing concrete balustrades which sit on the roof section of the promenade.

The event will offer the public an opportunity to share their thoughts on what might replace the balustrades, once the Central Lower Promenade repairs are complete.

Mrs Redfearn said: “We’re investing over £36m in Whitley Bay and the coast to deliver a seafront that we can all be proud of, and we’re keen for everyone to get involved.

“I know that many people have said they would like to see the balustrades retained, and I appreciate why. However, the plan of work for Central Lower Promenade dictates that they need to be removed for engineering reasons.

“We won’t be able to replace these exact balustrades once work is complete, but we are keen to hear what residents would like to see in their place.

“Our ambition is to deliver a high quality and distinctive finish right along the Central and Northern promenades and we’ll continue to talk with our residents, visitors and businesses over the coming months about how we can achieve that.”

The re-shaping of Central Lower Promenade is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

Other schemes which will feature at next week’s Master Plan event include a £2.5m scheme to improve St Mary’s Lighthouse and Island; plans to develop the area around the Rendezvous Cafe; details of the second phase of work to improve the Watts Slope area to create a gateway to Northern Promenade; proposals for new ‘heritage style’ seating along the coast; proposals for day and overnight stay beach huts; plans for beach showers, ideas for a Land Train, including a proposed route; plans for the restoration of Grant’s Clock on Central Promenade; plans to restore the Coronation Fountain on Northern Promenade, and much more.

The sessions aim to bring residents, businesses and visitors up to date with progress on these and other projects that are planned or underway at the coast, as well as offer an opportunity for the public to share their views.

Members of the public can see the plans at Whitley Bay’s Customer First Centre, on Monday, July 13 (from 2pm until 4pm) and Tuesday July 14 (from 10am until 7pm).