Success as North Tyneside Council secures funding for Spanish City Dome

Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn inside the Dome with Chief Executive Patrick Melia (left) and Paul Mackings and Kyle Mackings from Kymel Trading.

There were celebrations in North Tyneside today as it was announced that the Council has been successful in its bid for £3.47million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help restore Whitley Bay’s Grade II listed Spanish City and Dome.

News of this significant investment is the culmination of a number of years of work by North Tyneside Council, its partners and the local community to secure the future of this iconic building.

The overall restoration costs are estimated at £10million and will be supported by more than £4million of investment from the council and a Coastal Communities Fund grant of more than £2.5million.

Today’s announcement has delighted North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn who said:

“This is fantastic news for North Tyneside as I know how much it means to people.  When I was elected residents told me they wanted less talk and more action – especially when it comes to Whitley Bay and the Spanish City where they want to see things done.

“Our council officers have worked tirelessly to bring this scheme to life. They have worked closely with the Heritage Lottery Fund and created a future plan for the Dome which will see it restored to its former splendour and used in ways that will be truly fitting for a building of such significance.

“The Dome has a rich and wonderful past history and this HLF grant will guarantee its future is just as wonderful.  I will ensure that work starts at the earliest possible time and I promise that I will keep residents informed of progress.”

The council’s ambitious proposals for the Spanish City have been inspired by the Dome’s rich past and aim to bring about a fitting and sympathetic renaissance of the landmark building to create a truly unique visitor destination for the North East.

It has unveiled transformational, commercial plans for the Spanish City, which will see the Dome re-opened as a high quality leisure, wedding and conferencing destination, managed by Kymel Trading Ltd.

Kymel Trading Ltd have a track record of successfully operating prestigious venues, hotels and restaurants across the North, including the Crab and Lobster and Crab Manor Hotel in Thirsk and Trenchers seafood restaurant in Whitby.

Kyle Mackings, Chief Executive, Kymel Trading Ltd said: “We are absolutely delighted with the news that the Heritage Lottery Fund have supported our collective bid to breathe new life into the iconic Spanish City. I have been impressed by the commitment and energy of North Tyneside Council to finding a long term sustainable solution to the use of this special building.  The starting gun has now been fired on this unique project to bring visitors old and new back to this attractive part of the North East coast.  As the new operators of Spanish City, we look forward to working with residents and businesses in building the buzz back into Whitley Bay”.

Meanwhile work is due to start next week for the separate development of a Premier Inn hotel and restaurant next door to the Dome.

The combination of the restored Spanish City Dome and the new hotel and restaurant is expected to substantially increase the number of visitors to Whitley Bay’s seafront and increase the potential for overnight stays.

The current proposals will see up to five ground floor retail or cafe units to the front of the building facing onto the promenade, including the new Plaza area. The first floor will also feature a café/restaurant and a large leisure space with spectacular elevated sea views towards St Mary’s Lighthouse.

Council Chief Executive Patrick Melia added: “This is excellent news and a major boost to the council’s plans to deliver its ambitions to transform not just the Dome but the whole seafront, as set out in our £30million Seafront Masterplan which will regenerate the entire area.”.

Chris Holmes, Director of ADP Architects added: “The redevelopment of Spanish City has obviously been a long time coming.  After all the care and attention, effort and enthusiasm that has been invested by the entire team, to finally receive the HLF funding, is tremendously exciting. We’re all raring to go on the next stage of the project and can’t wait to see the building completed and being enjoyed by all.”

Information for Editors

The Spanish City Dome is a Grade II Listed building of great national importance being an early example of the ‘Hennebique’ patented system of reinforced concrete construction. When it was built in 1910, the Spanish City Dome was the largest freestanding dome in the UK after St Paul’s Cathedral.

It became part of a modern amusement park – and was immortalised in the 1981 Dire Straits song ‘Tunnel of Love’. After the business ended, the building remained empty for five years and fell into disrepair, becoming an eyesore rather than an attraction. Following a period of decline during the 80’s and 90’s, the building closed permanently to the public in 2000.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery.