Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Place like Dome; Whitley Bay Is Finally Undergoing a Much-Needed Transformation. the Oncepopular Seaside Destination Has Suffered Years of Uncertainty and Underinvestment. but All That Is Changing - and Fast - as Sonia Sharma Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Place like Dome; Whitley Bay Is Finally Undergoing a Much-Needed Transformation. the Oncepopular Seaside Destination Has Suffered Years of Uncertainty and Underinvestment. but All That Is Changing - and Fast - as Sonia Sharma Reports

Article excerpt

Simon Greener THE party may be over for Whitley Bay, but the seaside town has plenty of life in it yet. The town's 'party zone' - once heaving with revellers every Bank Holiday - looked deserted this Easter.

While a handful of bars centred around South Parade remained busy, the area looked desolate with a number of closed or boarded-up properties.

The Avalon, a biker-themed bar and hotel, closed in September, while Easy Street has a 'To Let' sign outside. Elsewhere, Pier 39 and Breeze shut their doors in 2012 and were later turned into flats.

However, people in Whitley Bay say the town is in a state of transition, and while the club culture may have declined, new ventures are popping up, bringing in different clienteles. For example, the former Aruba bar, on North Parade, has been turned into the Turknaz restaurant.

Many believe the area is going through a renaissance that will transform the town.

After landing a PS3.47million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a PS10million revamp of Spanish City is finally on the cards and will see shops, cafes, leisure and community space built at the iconic dome, while a Premier Inn hotel and restaurant is to be built next door.

Paul Irwin, who runs Whitley baybased East Coast Taxis, said: "The town goes through cycles. At the moment, Whitley Bay is refreshing itself.

"The people who came to drink in Turn to Page 30 >Julie Summers at Olives in Whitley Bay Metro station From Page 29 Whitley Bay - the party crowd - are now going to Newcastle or the Fish Quay in North Shields.

"There has been a big shift, which is not bad for the town. New businesses are choosing to invest here and a lot of positive things are happening."

Julie Summers, chairwoman of Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade, owns three businesses - Olives Restaurant at the Metro station, Olives Fish and Chips on Station Road and Olives Coffee on Whitley Road.

She said: "The town is not dead. There may not be much happening on South Parade, but it has been busy everywhere else. I would not have invested in three businesses here if I didn't think there was a positive future. …

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