A major transformation is being planned for a seaside town, which would create jobs, bolster tourism and capitalise on its fishing heritage.
An ambitious scheme has been drawn up to establish a unique selling point for Amble as the seafood town; the authentic place to go to sample fresh, locally-caught fish, based on its nature as a working port.
A Harbour Village comprising a Seafood Centre and training academy form part of the project, along with space for 15 incubator units accommodating small start-up businesses.
On top of this, a separate planning application has been approved by Northumberland County Council under delegated powers for major work in and around Amble Marina.
This would include the construction of 10 timber holiday chalets, extension of the marina building and renovation of the Coquet Street car park.
Amble mayor Craig Weir said: “These plans are good for the future of Amble, bringing employment and increasing footfall. I am excited by them.”
The Harbour Village scheme has been developed by the county council in partnership with Amble Development Trust, in consultation with Warkworth Harbour Commissioners, Amble Boat Company and Coquet Shorebase Trust (CSBT). It comes in response to the report Amble: The Seafood Town, prepared by Team Tourism Consulting. In the short-term, nearly 40 full-time jobs would be created. It is anticipated that 12 roles would also be safeguarded within local fishing fleets, plus other longer-term employment benefits.
Through the development of the Harbour Village, it is estimated an additional 20,000 visitors would come to Amble over the first two years and the local economy would receive a boost of nearly £1.2million during this time. Training workshops would be delivered by the Seafood Training Academy.
The county council’s business chairman Coun Scott Dickinson said: “After discussions and research, we have chosen seafood-related tourism as the way forward.
“We are working with the wider Amble 2020 partnership to secure the necessary external funding and planning permission to progress this work.
“Funding bids are being submitted to try to achieve this. We want Amble’s people and businesses to benefit as much as possible from jobs, training and trading opportunities which could arise out of this project.”
As part of the application, the existing boat storage area next to Leazes Street, as well as the dock, would be redeveloped to create the Harbour Village.
The Seafood Centre would comprise working space for wholesale fish distribution, including cold store, supported by office space, and the start-up businesses in the incubator units could be linked to seafood.
A re-organisation of the streetscape at the junction of Lawson Street and Leazes Street is planned to provide an enhanced connection between the Harbour Village, quayside and Town Square.
The scheme includes the relocation of the CSBT to new premises on The Braid, west of Amble Boat Club/Coquet Yacht Club, enabling clearance of the existing CSBT site for future redevelopment. The new building would accommodate storage space for water-sports equipment, classroom, changing facilities and other features. A new slipway into the River Coquet is proposed for the riverbank opposite and would improve launching for disabled people. The application includes the formation of a new quayside public footpath linking the existing car park adjacent to the Town Square with the Harbour Village, via the cleared CSBT site and Amble Boat Company’s boatyard.
The marina is set for a facelift after Amble Marina Limited’s (AML) plans were approved. Managing director Karl Brunton said it would create jobs and bolster tourism.
As part of the plans, which include building the holiday chalets and extending the marina building, AML wants to reorientate the marina’s main entrance and make a pedestrian access, creating a link between the marina and the town.