Whitley Bay pubs, restaurants, and local businesses divided on STACK plans at the Spanish City

Plans to redevelop Whitley Bay’s former Empress Ballroom into a new STACK venue have divided the town’s business community.
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While some business owners hail the new plans for the Spanish City as part of the ongoing regeneration of Whitley Bay, others worry it will negatively impact existing small businesses.

If submitted plans are approved by North Tyneside Council, the new STACK venue would include a stage for live entertainment and space for street food and drink outlets. A new roof terrace is also on the cards.

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Kathryn Meadows, owner of Nicholson’s Butchers on Park View, said: “I think it is fabulous for Whitley Bay, it will bring more people down to the town. It will draw different customers, it will attract a younger community which is exactly what we need.

The Empress Ballroom, the proposed location of STACK Whitley Bay.The Empress Ballroom, the proposed location of STACK Whitley Bay.
The Empress Ballroom, the proposed location of STACK Whitley Bay.

“I just think it is brilliant. It’s a lot more in keeping and a lot more on-trend than how South Parade used to be, a lot more civilised.

“There could be some noise and disturbance but in the grand scheme of things I think the seafront is in desperate need of something that is not a chain like the Beefeater.

"I like to support independent businesses like my own and for independents to be drawn there, that is brilliant.”

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Nichola Strasser, the proprietor of Anne Thomas Workwear on Park View, was equally optimistic.

“I think it will be brilliant for Whitley Bay, it is what we need,” explained Nichola. “We need somewhere for the youngsters to go and the oldies too.

“It will be absolutely fine, it is right by the sea, I do not think the houses will hear too much noise, there will be a cut-off point for music, and it is the perfect venue.

"It is part of the ongoing regeneration of Whitley Bay.”

Detractors in the local food and drink trade are concerned a STACK would hurt existing smaller businesses and pull customers away from the town centre’s offerings.

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Tony Patton, the owner of the Dog and Rabbit pub on Park View, said: “I think this will set back the regeneration of the town centre.

"A lot is going on at the seafront and it is really nice but, at the same time, you need to have a plan for the town centre and the seafront.

"We had the carnival here, which was great for the kids, but it had a pied piper effect and took everyone to the seafront.

“It is a concern that this will do the same thing.”

Mark Hirb, owner and manager of the Crab and Waltzer on Marine Avenue, said: “It won’t help me, it is not going to be in my favour. There are enough eateries here now.

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“We have got the Dome itself, we’ve got the Split Chimp, we have got the Whitley Whaler, two Italian restaurants, and Pantrini’s.

"I think another one is going to hurt.”

Built in 1910, the Empress Ballroom went on to become the Carlton Club bingo hall before lying empty and falling into disrepair.

Plans by current owner Mark Holmes to transform it into a leisure and community venue were delayed by Covid and now, although planning permission for a leisure venue is in place, Danieli Group has applied for a variation of the plans to create STACK Whitley Bay.

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