Tynemouth cycle hub plans spark protest

Ray Laidlaw at the protest. Picture by John Millard
Ray Laidlaw at the protest. Picture by John Millard

Protestors turned out in force to voice their opposition to plans for a new cycle hub in Tynemouth.

Campaign group Friends of the Spanish Battery got together this week to protest at the planned development near the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House Museum.

Northern Property Group has submitted a planning application to North Tyneside Council to build leisure facilities for cyclists, including a rooftop garden, viewing terrace and a shop.

The development is close to the Grade II-listed Watch House Museum and the Old Coastguard Cottages and protestors fear the project would disturb the tranquility of the area, cause traffic problems and harm wildlife.

Sally McGee, one of the campaign leaders, said: “This site is of historic significance and demonstrably special to the local community.

“This is no place for a glass and concrete bunker. Tynemouth is already an incredibly successful seaside village. There is no need for such a high impact development in this beautiful area.”

The Save the Spanish Battery protest. Picture by John Millard

The Save the Spanish Battery protest. Picture by John Millard

Around 100 people attended the protest, and more than 2,000 have signed a petition against the proposal.

Among them was Tynemouth-born musician and ex-Lindisfarne star Ray Laidlaw, who still lives locally.

He said: “This is the wrong place for something like this.

“It’s a residential area, quiet and unspoilt.”

But Josh Boyle, one of the founders of the Watch House Garden project, said the plan would increase the green space on the Battery.

He said: “Our designs turn the current private garden and unusable, overgrown slope into an accessible green space for all the public to enjoy, essentially increasing the green space available on the Spanish Battery.

“A full visual impact assessment has been carried out on the proposed development site and it shows that the Cycle hub will not even be visible from approximately 95 per cent of the headland.”

He added: “We are essentially three local lads who hope to ensure a successful and sustainable business that will provide jobs for the area and enhance local tourism by attracting more people to Tynemouth.”

However, another of the campaign leaders, Sandy Kerr, said: “Tynemouth already has plenty of cafés, restaurants and pubs for everyone, including cyclists.”

Campaigners have also said the modern building would significantly alter the character of the historic Spanish Battery, which dates back to 1545 when Henry VIII was fortifying coastal defences.

Mr Boyle responded: “From the outset, we ensured that the designs fitted into such an important and iconic area as the Spanish Battery and that they would not impact the back drop of the Brigade Watch House, as well as having as many consultations with as many stakeholders in the local area as possible.”

The project also posted on Facebook: ‘You can’t please everyone. But the fanatical and vocal protestations of a few should not ruin things for the wider community and region as a whole. Let’s not chase away investment in our local area and economy.’