Three eyesore properties which have blighted a town’s seafront for years are to be demolished in a breakthrough agreement which will boost regeneration plans for the area.
North Tyneside Council has acquired the boarded-up premises of the former Avenue pub behind the Spanish City dome, the High Point Hotel and what was the Whisky Bends bar.
The council’s cabinet has also agreed to finalise property negotiations with the current owner of the former Wallsend police station to confirm a package that will secure the future of the listed Wallsend Town Hall as a business centre offering office accommodation.
It is expected that the land occupied by the police station, near the town hall, will be developed for affordable housing for the town centre.
With a new Customer First Centre due to open in Wallsend town centre, council staff are being moved out of the town hall.
North Tyneside mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I am delighted that North Tyneside Council can kick start the next phase of regeneration in both Whitley Bay and Wallsend through these landmark property agreements.
“I know people in Whitley Bay and Wallsend have been so frustrated at the delays they have had to suffer over many years and so I hope they will be delighted that they will eventually be able to see some real progress.
“Therefore we are pleased to be able to confirm that we have now taken ownership of three properties on Whitley Bay seafront and have a contract with the former owners to demolish the buildings in an agreed time limit.”
Council chief executive Patrick Melia said that the three seafront sites would be available for development - probably for homes. This would allow the council to recoup the purchase costs while removing the eyesore “log jam.”
He said: “It will create a positive feel and hopefully encourage the private sector to invest,” he said.
Mr Melia also described the Wallsend deal as a “win win” situation.
The council and the developer had swapped the town hall for the police station and no money had changed hands.
The developer, who had originally intended to convert the police station into a business centre, decided that the town hall was a better option. “It is a better site for them on the main road and with parking, and the town hall will continue in use, which is positive for the town centre.”
In Whitley Bay the other prominent derelict site on the sea front - formerly occupied by the Alletsa Ballroom and Sylvester’s nightclub - was given planning approval in December for a development of nine town houses and five apartments.
And the council will be able to progress major refurbishment of the Spanish City dome for leisure, retail and business enterprise use, after securing a first stage grant approval for £3.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the listed building last year.
Work is also nearing completion on the new Spanish City Plaza to the front of the Dome, which will provide an informal leisure and cultural entertainment area linking the building to the adjacent seafront Links.
In Wallsend the regeneration of the town centre will reach a key milestone in the next few weeks as the new Customer First Centre opens its doors. The facility is part of the revamp of the Wallsend Forum shopping centre and adjacent area.
The new building will offer better access to council services, with a new library, customer service centre, three community rooms available for hire, an art display area, public toilets, baby changing area and free wi-fi. A café will open later in the year.