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** Whitley Bay Regeneration **

Spanish City Regeneration gets go-ahead

19-APR-06 - Statement from the North Tyneside Council

Whitley Bay's Spanish City and seafront area could be a cultural hub second only to Sage/Baltic in the North East, says a report agreed by North Tyneside's Cabinet. (Tuesday, April 18).

The ambitious £60m proposals for the regeneration of the Spanish City and seafront area of Whitley Bay were given full approval by councillors at the meeting.

Demolition of remaining Spanish City buildings is ongoing and work has already started on road re-alignments and an events area at Whitley Park. Planning applications are expected during the summer and building work is likely to start later this year.

The scheme includes proposals to create a cultural quarter for visual and performing arts incorporating The Dome and Whitley Bay Playhouse.

The iconic Dome building will be refurbished so that it becomes a 21st century venue, which could attract the best in visual and performing arts at a local and regional level. This would include a 200-seat studio/performance/conference space; along with café/ restaurant and exhibition and music rehearsal spaces.

The Dome would have strong linkages to Whitley Bay Playhouse. The council is contributing £5.5m contribution towards the Playhouse Trust's £8.3m plans for the well-loved theatre. These plans include new front of house facilities, new auditorium seating, and a new orchestra pit.

A wide range of arts uses has been identified for the Dome and discussions with potential users also suggest the arts community are fully supportive of the project.

Refurbishment of the Playhouse would include conferencing which, together with facilities in the Dome would provide a critical mass for this kind of activity so it could be seen as a viable and attractive conference venue, with a range of breakout spaces and fringe activities.

A further element of the scheme is a high quality modernised leisure pool. The pool would have a new entrance and reception area alongside soft play and catering.

The "Wet" facilities include innovative "active play" equipment for children and a new flume. There will also be a new changing village and on the first floor a large well equipped gym, dance studio and refurbished health suite with direct access to the pool.

The scheme also includes:

-A bigger, better, people-friendly Whitley Park with a new events area, public art and new children's play areas.
A quality hotel.
A skatepark at the site of the former Panama cafe.
Around 300 houses including an element of affordable housing.
A £5.5m library/joint service centre either on the existing library site adjacent to Whitley Park or on a site in the town centre.
Environmental improvements both on The Links and around the site, along with road improvements.

Councillor Jim Allan, Cabinet member for Regeneration said:

"This is a momentous and long awaited moment for Whitley Bay. I know from talking to local people and from the public engagement we carried out that everyone wants us to get moving on the regeneration of Spanish City and the seafront. We are pleased that the Chamber of Trade have also given the plans their thumbs up after consulting their members. Now we can finally start to see results. It's very good news."

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