Wansbeck Matters

Newbiggin by the Sea Bay

A Strategic Plan for 2020 in Newbiggin by the Sea

A strategic plan to bring prosperity to Newbiggin by the Sea

This short discussion paper offers ideas and opportunities to deliver businesses and prosperity.

Our current situation

Newbiggin by the Sea needs to be identified as a Town. Before 2010 we had no classification. Since then we are identified as a ‘secondary settlement’. Because of this, we are excluded from some investment opportunities.
Because of our demographics we are in the worst classification for deprivation. EG. Because of low incomes, about 1000 properties pay no Council Tax. 80% of existing properties are in Band A Council Tax.
Newbiggin by the Sea is probably the only Town in the country with a population of circa 6,500 people with no industrial or office-based economy.
We have a fledgeling tourism economy.
The future of the 450 children who attend our Grace Darling Academy Primary School is dependent upon what we do NOW.

Business within the curtilage of our Parish

We have the former Alcan smelter site at Woodhorn. The site is owned by Haworth Estates. Several small businesses have located on the 320-acre site. There is potential for a range of future industrial and commercial development.
The Ashwood Business Park in Ashington is located just outside of our boundary.

BOTH SITES ARE AVAILABLE FOR NEW BUSINESSES.
COMPETITION FOR INWARD INVESTMENT IS IMMENSE.
TO COMPETE WE MUST MAKE OUR OFFER BETTER THAN THE COMPETITION.

How do we compete

We are blessed with many natural assets. Our ‘Natural Capital’ is exceptional.
Our assets include:
We are situated in a coastal Town within the rural and historic County of Northumberland.
The name Newbiggin by the Sea is priceless,
Our ancient heritage.
A natural mile wide bay with a deep sandy beach that can accommodate sea-related sports.
The longest promenade in the County.
An enviable, 18 hole, links golf course.
A well-performing Primary School – Grace Darling Campus.
A large tract of land in the geographic centre of the Town that can support most land sports.
A Sports and Community Centre with a quality gymnasium.
Scores of voluntary organisations.
A Town Centre – the Quay Wall is the ancient gravitational social centre and meeting place.
Land readily available for new housing.
An area rich in wildlife. On land and sea.
A uniquely situated top quality outdoor bowling facility.The Maritime Centre.
The Lifeboat House and its history.
Memorial Park is probably the most earnest and meaningful tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives in two world wars. It was paid for by public subscription in the 1920’s.
Our healthcare facilities in South East Northumberland are world-class.
We compete by marketing these assets.

Projects that will deliver our aspirations.

Housing
Inward investors require homes that their Senior managers and staff find acceptable.
This is an essential element for regeneration and for increasing disposable income. See submission to Aecom regarding housing numbers. Appendix 1.

The Bay: Fishing and Sailing are two of the most popular activities. Fishing, Sailing, Boarding, Bird watching, Dolphin and Marine life observation activities can all be pursued. Beach Volley Ball is another pursuit that is on offer. The hugely successful Dolphin Watch is testimony to the potential for increased social and economic activity.

Appendix 2  See public consultation documents.

Access: The extension of the ‘Quarry Road’ to link with the promenade and access to the bay.
A temporary road was used in the 1980’s to import thousands of boulders that were laid in front of the promenade. A jetty the same height as the promenade and leading out to sea would be a huge asset and it would support sailing and fishing two of the biggest sports.

Appendix 3

Access: ‘Metalled’ paths to provide access to the West end of the Town from the Sandy Bay holiday parks. This ‘path’ is also included in the UK’s coastal path route.
Relatively few of the people using the holiday accommodation around Sandy Bay come into the Town because the potentially closest route is hazardous and unsuitable for pushchairs etc.

Appendix 4

A Town centre car park is essential.
Parking space in the Town is inadequate.

Appendix 5

An ‘Aires’ park for mobile holiday vehicles.
This can be accommodated in the Town Centre Car Park.

Appendix 6

High quality 21st Century toilet facilities.
Should need no explanation

Culture: A permanent cultural development facility centred around musical tuition.
Newbiggin by the Sea Brass Band and Tutors of music need a permanent base for practice and storage. This is imperative to support cultural development. Music is now a global industry requiring thousands of jobs in drama, events, theatre and distribution. Prior to Covid, our Grace Darling Campus had a thriving musical tuition record with help from Newbiggin by the Sea Partnership Ltd.

Safety: Levelling the promenade across the lifeboat slipway.
The need for this has been accepted by NCC and is in hand.

Conclusion
Year on year increases in visitor numbers over the last 15 years is evidence of our potential.
The damage to our environment caused by subsidence from coal mining has been largely overcome by the replacement of our beach in 2007.
Hopefully, the elements that lead to economic prosperity and improving the quality of life can now be addressed.
‘Natural Capital’ is incomparable. If the basic requirements for further development are in place scores of new business opportunities will be recognised.
This strategy will support the ideas for a playpark at the West End, Beach huts etc.

Appendices

Appendix 1
Aecom report for Neighbourhood Steering Group Housing investigation 18th Oct 2020
This report is a comprehensive assessment of the housing issues that need to be addressed.
The report does not mention that 20 years ago about 300 houses (Council/social) were demolished in Newbiggin by the Sea.
This skews the discussion about the number of new homes that are needed.
The homes built by Bernicia in Seacrest Road were replacements as were the homes in the former Cumberland Avenue (Hodgkinson Way).
Some new properties were built on Woodhorn Road and Store Farm Road replacing houses that were demolished.
The only ‘new’ properties are those at Woodhorn Farm built by Grainger homes.
Over the last twenty years, no capacity for growth for ‘new’ homes has been acknowledged.
Taking these factors into account the number of NEW homes needed to meet the deficit should be more than the 520 recommended by Aecom.
Iit can be argued that we have missed out on at least 20 years x 360/30 = 240 houses.
This figure should be added to the 520 over 15 years recommended.
760 over 15 years would require an average of 50 homes for each of the next 15 years. (one per week).
NB. The belief that 7.2 % of homes should have ONE bedroom should be tested?

Appendix 2   See public consultation documents.

Appendix 3
The Quarry Road is accessed from North Seaton Road, opposite Spital Farm. It is used to access Northumbrian Water’s waste treatment plant and the former quarry site that is now the location of a Cast Stone business and some dwellings.
The road can also serve the holiday home sites located between Spital Point and Sandy Bay.
In the 1980’s this road was used to access the beach by a temporary surface suitable for the large lorries that brought thousands of boulders into the bay to protect the promenade and hence the properties on the seafront.
Most of the boulders were removed from the front of the promenade in 2006 when the beach was replaced. They were used to build the breakwater.
The promenade is an increasingly popular asset for the Town. An extension of the promenade to the base of Spital Point would be an asset. It would also allow service vehicle access to the bay and to the proposed Marina.
There is a small car park at the base of Spital Point which was built on former Garden Allotments. With agreement, more allotment land could be used for an extended car park.

Appendix 4
Few people staying on the Sandy Bay site come into Newbiggin by the Sea Town Centre. This is because the route from Sandy Bay along the coast is hazardous for people with infirmities and young children who are transported with pushchairs.
A suitable ‘metalled’ pathway leading to an extended promenade would increase the footfall in the Town Centre. Increased footfall would lead to more opportunities for new and existing businesses.

Appendix 5
Northumberland County Council gave permission to Newbiggin by the Sea Town Council to use land situated between the Woodlea housing estate and the East Lea Housing estate for a temporary car park. The Town Council has invested in creating access to the site at both ends.
This site is situated about 100 metres from the Town Centre and users of the car park entering the Town would emerge into the Town Centre opposite the Co-op where most of the commercial activity takes place. The Quay wall which is the hub of the Town Centre is close by.
This site lends itself perfectly for an ‘Aires’ mobile holiday home destination. There are thousands of such sites in Europe and an increasing number are now available in the UK. Initially, the site requires no utility services since the mobile homeowners bring their needs with them.
The site has been used over a few days each year as a fairground.

Appendix 6

NEWBIGGIN BY THE SEA

Facilities for all events, people of all ages and all conditions of disablement.
The plan is to convert the Toilets situated at the bus terminus adjacent to the Church Point Car Park, into an enviable facility. The intention is to have four ‘all-purpose’ cubicles with wide doors to cater for all types of mobility vehicles for people with severe disablement. The cubicles would provide the usual toilet facilities with baby changing units and a range of handholds. Some severely disabled people need a carer to accompany them and space is needed so that their heavy mobility units can be moved about.
The plan was also designed to make the facility as vandal-proof as possible by situating the necessary utilities within the toilet block in a secure corridor behind the cubicles.
The plan identified four fully equipped cubicles with the intention of having three cubicles available at busy times with one to spare in case of damage or breakdown. Newbiggin by the Sea has the capacity to host events that attract thousands of people so, the doors would have interchangeable signs indicating ‘Men’, ‘Women’, ‘Disabled’ or they could be simply ‘all-purpose’.
Because the proposed layout is flexible one or more of the cubicles could include ‘shower’ facilities at little additional cost.
The existing site is in the right location for the Church Point car park and all the utility requirements are already in place.
Disabled people in heavy mobility units can park their motor vehicles temporarily outside the toilet block whilst using the facility.
Benefits
The Newbiggin by the Sea Town Council needs to provide facilities that contribute to the prosperity and reputation of the community.
The existing Toilet Block is on the Coastal Route.

IF THE TOWN COUNCIL WANTED TO BUILD A PUBLIC TOILET BLOCK IN ANOTHER LOCATION IT WOULD COST TWICE AS MUCH AND GETTING AGREEMENT ON ANOTHER LOCATION COULD TAKE YEARS and MAY NEVER HAPPEN.

First-class facilities will benefit our Traders by increasing footfall.
The coach bays at the Church Point car park are unused and we will only get day-trippers if we have reputable facilities. 200 coach visits per year each with 30 passengers would put about £100,000 into our fragile economy.
Appropriate facilities could help to bring the Triathlon back. The Triathlon attracted 450 participants and thousands of spectators.
In normal times our Parkrun attracts an average of 120 participants per week. 470 last New years day.
Companies offering paddle boarding and windsurfing can be attracted if we offer the facilities that they need. An established provider is considering Newbiggin by the Sea for these activities.
Windsurfers and boarders are looking at Newbiggin by the Sea to meet the increasing demand for these sports – if we have supporting facilities.
The plans are in place and the toilets could be available for next summer.
Covid will increase the number of people staying in the UK for their holiday breaks.
Previous attempts to provide facilities have been blocked. We cannot be seen to display a callous indifference to the needs of our residents and visitors.
I refer to the fact that plans to provide 21st Century Toilet facilities have been rejected twice by the adoption of intimidation from protestors who had not bothered to see the plans describing the proposals?

 

James Alan Thompson

Mayor of Newbiggin by the Sea

November 2020

Additional Links:

Newbiggin Town Council.  The Cresswell Toilets