Coastal regeneration is reviving the fortunes of Whitley Bay
Businesses are flocking to Whitley Bay thanks to the multi-million pound investment in the coast – bringing the ‘feel-good factor’ back to the town.
North Tyneside Council’s Seafront Master Plan, which includes upwards of £36m of public and private sector investment, is aimed at making the area even more attractive to visitors, residents and businesses.
The major regeneration scheme was launched in 2014 and a number of developments, including the work to restore the Spanish City to its former glory, are now nearing completion or have already been completed – with several more projects planned for the near future.
Since the work began, scores of new businesses have set up in the town - encouraged by the investment in the coastline.
According to latest figures from the council, 33 new ventures have started up in just the last 24 months.
Of these, 19 are independent food and drink businesses further bolstering the offer for locals and visitors and feature a wide range of cultures, from Turkish and Greek, street food, Indian and Italian, to Hungarian, traditional Geordie, Mediterranean and South American.
The other 14 are a mix of independent businesses, including arts and crafts, children’s clothing, florists, hairdressers, beauticians, fitness studios, a hotel, tattoo artists and therapies and treatments.
It has resulted in millions of pounds being invested by the private sector – the Premier Inn and Beefeater development next to the Spanish City saw a £1.4m investment and creation of 59 jobs, while estimates suggest a further £2.25m has been invested by smaller, independent firms.
Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, said: “We work with local businesses to encourage investment in our coastline so this is wonderful news not only for our economy here in North Tyneside but the wider community too.
“It’s great to see so many brilliant and exciting new businesses, including local and independent as well as larger, national chains, coming to Whitley Bay.
“We’re proud of our beautiful coastline and it is pleasing to see Whitley Bay flourishing once again. We’re already seeing people flock back to the area thanks to our investment and the confidence shown by private sector.
“The work as part of the Seafront Master Plan is bringing the feel-good factor back and helping the area continue to grow and thrive. Nearly 6m people visit the coast every year already and that number will only rise.
“There’s plenty more to look forward to in the coming weeks and months on the seafront too and I hope to see residents and visitors enjoying the new facilities during what I’m sure will be another fantastic summer.”
Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade’s membership has risen from 20 to 275 and has seen 46 new businesses start up in the last year or so.
Chair Julie Summers, who also owns local restaurant Olives at the Station, said the changes couldn't be more welcomed: “The town is turning its fortunes right round - with thanks to North Tyneside Council there is light ahead.
“The promenade, the dome and the town centre plans to come are fantastic for residents, business owners and tourists and we can't wait to show it off!
“There's a sense of new opportunities and optimism in the air. This in turn will be a great base for building this town’s future and now the Spanish City has joined the Chamber too.
“There are many businesses that have taken over run-down businesses and heavily invested and then a small number that have bought going concerns. The likes of the Black Horse was very near to closing and new owners have come in taken over and given it a new lease of life. While these aren't 'start ups' they are definitely a sign of further investment and confidence in the area.
“Yes, a lot of the start-ups are food and drink but there's some great others appearing too. One example is ‘For the Love of the North’ - a brand new business and they’re even in the final 10 for this year’s national ‘VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar’ awards!”
The Spanish City restoration, which is being delivered by the council through its contractors Robertson Construction, was designed by architecture firm ADP and comes after the authority secured a £3.47m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), is due for completion in spring and the building will reopen in the summer. The council has invested £4m and also secured a Coastal Communities Fund grant of more than £2.5m.
It will be run by Kymel Trading and will feature a dedicated function space, traditional tearoom, fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, ice cream and waffle house, fine-dining restaurant and champagne bar.
Patrick Melia, Chief Executive, North Tyneside Council, said: “The Spanish City and its Dome is already well-known and loved by people from all over the country and beyond.
“The work to restore it to its former glory will only strengthen the positive impact that the regeneration of the coast is having and will lead to further interest and investment in the town.”
As part of the Seafront Master Plan, sea defence upgrades and public realm improvements at Central Lower Promenade are nearing completion and will complement the popular makeover of the Northern Promenade.
And revised plans have just been submitted to safeguard the future of St Mary’s Lighthouse and improve educational facilities.
The council will also continue to work with the private sector in future to enhance the coastline through potential development opportunities.