Recently, North Tyneside Council circulated the beginnings of a regional development plan. This consisted of a detailed map of the borough, complete with various areas marked out as sites for potential housing development. Included amongst the sites for potential development was Whitley Bay Ice Rink and the surrounding leisure facilities: a football pitch, a cricket pitch, and more.
Whitley Bay Ice Rink has been a fixture in the cultural history of the region and it would be a terrible shame if it were to close. Many people seemed to agree: a petition calling for the site to be excluded from the plan received over 7,000 signatures. Residents were also able to write comments on the plan itself. The specific paragraph for the Ice Rink had attracted over 100 comments when I looked at it on the last day that comments were open. I hurredly put together one of my own:
Whitley Bay Ice Rink is about to celebrate it’s 60th birthday as both a key part of the history and culture of the borough and a unique leisure facility in the wider area. Sadly the Rink has seemed, historically, to be somewhat neglected, rather like the other large cultural landmark in the region - Whitley Bay’s Spanish City and Dome. I argue you should no sooner consider closing or redeveloping the Rink site than the Dome itself. Rather, both should be cherished and invested in, particularly if (as rumoured) the current owners are keen to retire or pass it on.
In recognising the need to increase the amount of housing in the area, one should consider what facilities will be available to the new residents within the region. Removing facilities to provide housing is slaying the golden goose. Whitley Bay Ice Rink is one of the few rinks left in the country and the nearest permanent ice rink within 30 miles. Ice skating has become a fond and lasting memory for many of the adults who have grown up in the region, many of whom enjoy or look forward to their own children experiencing it. I look forward to taking my niece and nephew there, when they are old enough, as well as my own future children. It is a traditional spot for School trips; the sports teams operating from the rink have a proud history and fearsome reputation. It’s an attraction for the large numbers of University students that travel to the two nearest Universities.
The borough is blighted with rotting seaside hotels which (following the recent development of the Idols site) should be converted into attractive flat or maisonette housing as a priority.