A £3.35 million project to safeguard and strengthen Whitley Bay’s sea defences is underway.
The major scheme to reconstruct Whitley Bay’s existing Central Lower Promenade is part of North Tyneside Council’s Seafront Master Plan – which involves at least £36 million of investment at the coast.
The project at Central Lower Promenade will include removing parts of the lower promenade, including disused retail units, and creating a new landscaped bank and concrete sea wall.
The scheme will take place in two phases and is scheduled to be complete by winter 2016. It has been necessary to start work now - during the summer season - to make sure the first phase is complete by November, when activity will need to be stopped to protect migrating, nesting birds.
The project has been carefully planned to ensure the safety of residents and visitors, maintain coastal views and minimise disruption wherever possible.
Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn said: “Central Lower Promenade is an essential part of Whitley Bay’s coastal defences and this £3.35million project will contribute to the regeneration of the seafront at Whitley Bay.
“Once this important work is done, there will be around one third of the lower promenade left in place, and we have already starting talking to residents about how this area could be used. Winter storms and tide surges do affect this location, but it could be lit or host small, temporary commercial units.
“The reconstruction of the lower promenade also provides an opportunity to transform the upper promenade and we’ll be talking to residents over the coming months to gather their views about how this could look.”
The first phase of work, which will run until November 2015, will see the demolition of the retail units and preliminary works to the sea wall structure.
Part of that work will involve the removal of the concrete balustrade railings that sit on the roof section of the retail units. The balustrades won’t be able to be salvaged or re-used, but the Elected Mayor has confirmed that once work to Central Lower Promenade is complete, they can be replaced with new, like for like balustrades.
She added: “I think it is really important to clarify the council’s position on this, and its commitment to Whitley Bay. Millions of pounds are being spent on the seafront regeneration and we are determined to deliver a high quality and distinctive finish to this vital area of the borough.
"I have spoken to a lot of people about the balustrades on Central Prom and I have listened to lots of views. I want to make it very clear that, although we can't retain the existing concrete balustrades, we can replace them with similar like-for-like decorative balustrades.”
The work at Central Lower Promenade will stop between November 2015 and March 2016 because of Marine Management Organisation (MMO) restrictions that are in place to protect migrating birds that come to the area to nest for the winter season.
The Central Lower Promenade project is being delivered by Capita’s property and infrastructure business, which is North Tyneside Council’s technical services partner.
Richard Carmichael, Capita, said: “We recognise that the continued regeneration of Whitley Bay is a top priority for the council and are pleased to be part of this exciting initiative. Our team will be ensuring that public safety is maintained throughout the delivery of these essential improvements to Central Lower Promenade.”
Around 300 metres of meshed safety fencing will be placed along the site to protect the public; mesh fencing has been used so that residents and visitors can still enjoy sea views from the promenade.
Pedestrians will also still be able to walk along the promenade in this area, although the footpath will be narrower than usual, and beach users will still be able to access the shoreline area next to Central Lower Promenade until late September.
Temporary traffic lights that are currently in place next to the construction site will be removed soon, to allow traffic to move freely in the area once again.
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