Campaigners win Newbiggin bandstand battle

DELIGHTED campaigners have won their battle to save a traditional bandstand in a Northumberland seaside town which wants to attract more tourists and visitors.

Eva Hartley from Newbiggin-by-the-sea, and local residents who are unhappy with council plans to remove the bandstand and Mosaics.

DELIGHTED campaigners have won their battle to save a traditional bandstand in a Northumberland seaside town which wants to attract more tourists and visitors.

Anger erupted when the steel bandstand – which has been a landmark in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea since the 1930s – was suddenly earmarked for demolition last year under plans to “de-clutter” the central piazza area next to the promenade.

The Journal revealed three months ago how 132 people had signed a petition calling for it to be saved, along with colourful floor mosaics which surround it.

Now the bandstand is to stay and get a welcome facelift, after council bosses did a U-turn on the townscape regeneration plans for the Quay Wall area.

People who responded to a second consultation exercise on the scheme gave 84% support to the bandstand being retained. It will now be refurbished with a new colour scheme and paving.

The revised scheme also involves changing the area’s layout, levels and access, adding new seats and bins and improved lighting.

However, mixed views about the floor mosaics, coupled with their poor condition, have led to the conclusion that they should be removed.

Last year’s petition was organised by local resident Eva Hartley, vice-chairman of the Newbiggin Community Partnership and a member of the KEAP Creative group of artists.

Yesterday she said: “I am absolutely delighted about this, and it is wonderful that what people want has been listened to.

“What caused the furore was that, in the initial consultation on the Quay Wall scheme, the bandstand was to be refurbished, but then they suddenly decided to knock it down.

“Newbiggin has had a bandstand since the 1930s and traditional seaside resorts have all got bandstands. We should be building on that tradition, not destroying it. People want to retain it and that is what has happened, thanks to the petition.

“It is sad to see the mosaics go but they have suffered damage from the recent bad weather. They are to be photographed before their removal and I will be pushing for the photos to be displayed on a wall in the piazza area.”

The improvement scheme aims to make the area more open and attractive, and create extra space for outdoor events and activities.

Coun Tom Brechany, county council executive member for regeneration, said: “I’m delighted that we have now agreed a scheme that will add real value to the town of Newbiggin.

“We hope that the resulting improvements will both create an attractive environment and lead to further economic and social benefits.”

Work on the Quay Wall improvements is due to start in September to avoid the main summer visitor season, and will take about 10 to 12 weeks to complete.

It follows major investment in the town in recent years to make it a bigger attraction for tourists and a better place to live in.

The Government spent £10m on building a new coast protection breakwater in Newbiggin Bay, restoring the town’s lost sandy beach and installing the Couple offshore artwork.

Work is currently taking place on building a £3m visitor centre which will celebrate the community’s seafaring and maritime heritage.

Eva is looking for photographs taken of the floor mosaics when they were put down in the early 1990s to form part of a display.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact her on 01670 817029.

Coupled with the regeneration project, funding from the Go Wansbeck initiative is helping to provide grant support to 20 shops in Newbiggin. The funding will pay for the repair or reinstatement of their historic fabric and features.

Councillor Brechany added: “This scheme is starting to show that heritage-led regeneration does work, with the investment now starting to create a more attractive environment.”

I am absolutely delighted. It is wonderful that what people want has been listened to

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