Work progressing on both projects

I have to reply to two letters (News Guardian, February 5), entitled ‘Waiting for decades for Dome work’ and ‘Where is all the development’.

Firstly the Dome. The letter writer accurately describes this as a long journey and we still have some way to go.

The effects of decline affecting seaside resorts like Whitley Bay require long term investment and the council has demonstrated its intent by completing flagship projects such as the refurbishment of Waves and the Playhouse, and the new Panama skate park, providing new modern attractions for residents and visitors alike.

The council is fully committed to the Dome project, having allocated over £6m capital funding to ensure that the full restoration happens, and we are just about to submit the stage two bid to Heritage Lottery Fund.

We expect a decision by July and, if successful, work will begin in the autumn.

What is even more positive is that the interest from potential tenants has been very encouraging, with 27 expressions of interest from genuine companies, all with appropriate uses in mind.

Elsewhere on the coast, we have arranged the demolition of the High Point Hotel and The Avenue, and will be happy to work with the new owners of the Rex Hotel, should the opportunity arise.

The other letter bemoaned the apparent inactivity at the former Swan Hunter site.

Let me explain that before occupation can commence and the crane can be erected, we must complete repairs to the quay edge, which has involved a complex tendering process and programme of works which are now under way.

The council has secured more than £26m of external grant funding and all works are currently under way and within budget.

The council and the ‘preferred developer’ are following up a number of interests in the site and, while this is commercially confidential, I can say that we expect to create up to 1,000 jobs on this riverside site.

WD Close have already taken on more than 100 new staff and apprentices.

Despite the slump in oil and gas prices, genuine interest from offshore companies remains strong as the site is identified for advanced manufacturing uses covering a wide range of industrial activities.

The site has a number of competitive advantages over other North Sea locations, including a low cost base (rent, staffing etc.) as well as business rate relief for five years and the availability of a willing workforce.

We are confident that we will attract business interest.

On both projects, it may appear that there is little movement but, believe me, beneath the surface our feet are paddling furiously

Coun Frank Lott

Cabinet Member for Economic Development

North Tyneside Council