A seaside town is springing back to life with the unveiling of a new-look promenade.
Paving, lighting and an amphitheatre at the new £1.2m Spanish City Plaza in Whitley Bay in North Tyneside was officially opened yesterday by MP for Tynemouth Alan Campbell.
Within minutes youngsters on their Easter holidays were whizzing around the space on scooters while the crowd also had a chance to wander inside the Grade II listed Spanish City Dome.
The seafront regeneration project, which was funded by the Coastal Community Fund, is now edging the town nearer to regaining its past popularity for visitors, said Mr Campbell.
“I think the pace of regeneration has really stepped up. Of course we face some challenges in the future, not least finishing off the dome, but this is a really important step forward and money well spent not just for people who want to visit Whitley Bay but also for the people who live here,” said the Labour politician.
He said more money from the Coastal Communities Fund would have been ideal but he was pleased the Government were continuing with the previous administration’s work to specifically target once prominent seaside towns.
And focus should now switch to the Spanish City Dome, he added, which is currently awaiting the rubber stamp on a proposition to renovate the building as a cultural hub and for use by social enterprise groups.
A grant totalling £3.7m has been pledged in principle by the Heritage Lottery Fund, however transformation work will only start once a second application is approved later this year.
Funds worth £182,700 were initially released for repair works and to enable a consultation with the public on what they would like to see the dome used for once it’s restored.
Mum-of-four Sarah Sutton, from Whitley Bay, said: “I think the new promenade is wonderful and I feel quite excited because it’s a step up for the region.
“The dome now needs the funding and I can just see wonderful things happening in the future.”
The project’s future viability also got a nod of approval this week as the Spanish City project was chosen by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a discussion piece on their website
Ben Greener, the organisation’s Historic Environment Advisor, who was brought up in Whitley Bay, wrote how he was delighted the Dome had been given a grant.
He said: “The restored, revitalised Dome will once again return to the heart of Whitley Bay and, hopefully, make local people incredibly proud of their town once again.”