Welcome to the Whitley Bay 'Our Bigger Story' website. This is part of the multi media evaluation of 15 Big Local areas in England. The website is an opportunity to follow what is changing in Whitley Bay as a result of Big Local over a ten year period.
The aim of the website is to share the learning from everything that is happening in Whitley Bay with other Big Local areas and highlight what works in communities with a wider audience of practitioners and policy makers
From rowdy nightlife to swanky apartments - what does the future hold for Whitley Bay's South Parade? It used to be known as party central to the region's revellers but Whitley Bay's South Parade is undergoing a transformation. The town's nightlife was the stuff of legend, with drinkers staggering between the bars along the so called "party strip'. But there has been big changes over the years as the street's pace slowed down and the bars and clubs that enticed stag and hen parties from across the region called last orders for the final time. However, some of the empty premises left by the decline of the area's nightlife have been given new leases of life. Work to transform the former Rex Hotel and the attached Deep nightclub into a care home continues apace. The Gosforth-based Malhotra Group want to "reuse the original hotel building" and convert it into a luxurious care home. Meanwhile, permission to turn the former Hush Lounge into 10 apartments was granted in January last year. Despite this there is still work to be done. Further up South Parade is the derelict building that used to be home to the Easy Street Pub. But the regeneration of that property could soon be at hand. At the end of March, North Tyneside Council gave planning permission to Blockdale Limited to turn it into eight apartments. At the time a planning statement from the company said the scheme would be good for the area, which is "currently undergoing significant change in character." Since then signage has been removed and a fence has been put up around the boarded-up ex boozer. Ward councillor John O'Shea said the area has improved over the years. He said: "South Parade was notorious for its night time economy and was a blot on the landscape in many respects. "There has been significant change over the last three or four years. The Rex Hotel is in the midst of being regenerated. "There is a one halfway down the road that's got planning permission hopefully that will take off shortly. "I think South Parade is on the up, there's still work to be done to get rid of some eye sores but I am really encouraged by what is going on. "Since I became councillor in 2011 there has been some tremendous regeneration." North Tyneside Council pointed to "major investment" in Whitley Bay's seafront but said its role with privately owned buildings is limited. John Sparkes, head of regeneration and economic development or the authority, added: "It's great to see the major investment from the council and its partners in recent years as part of the Seafront Master Plan for Whitley Bay has inspired confidence in the private sector to invest in the town. "This investment is continuing through our Ambition for North Tyneside plan with the ongoing refurbishment of the Northern Promenade to further improve the area and attract even more visitors. "This investment, coupled with the regular events we have put on, and working with our partners such as Whitley Bay Big Local, has helped change perceptions of the town. "We continue to work with owners of vacant buildings to bring them back into use and offer support to any businesses moving into the area."