The evolution of the North East leisure market has been gaining pace for some time, but perhaps the most striking aspect has been the revolution of the Coast, which has restored its reputation as a hotbed of food, drink and entertainment opportunities. David Downing, partner in our North East valuation team shares his views on the resurgence of the leisure market on the North East coast.
North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay are together witnessing a resurgence, with new venues opening, others being brought back to life, and many adapting their offering to cater for changing tastes, particularly the move towards food-led venues.
In North Shields, the redeveloped Royal Quays has seen the popular Herb Garden open its second North East restaurant, adding a further dimension to the marina and taking advantage of the waterfront setting with outdoor seating to cater for consumer demand.
Further up the coast, Whitley Bay is currently undergoing a £36 million seafront redevelopment covering a stretch between St Mary’s Lighthouse and Cullercoats Bay, which is designed to restore the area to its former glory after years of declining footfall.
Since the announcement of the funding in 2015, a number of restaurant, pub and bar owners have flocked to the area, including Andy Hook, who launched Hinnies restaurant on East Parade, serving traditional North East food in a contemporary setting; an indication of how proprietors are striking the balance.
A key focus of the investment includes the revamp of the Northern and Central Lower Promenades and the bolstering of sea defences to boost the aesthetic appeal. The historic Spanish City Dome is also being renovated and will become a wedding and conferencing venue with tea room, fish and chip takeaway and seafood restaurant.
Next door, a new 68-bedroom Premier Inn is being built and is set to open in June this year, while All Saints Living is behind the £1.25 million redevelopment of Newquay Lodge on Whitley Bay’s South Parade, which will see it become Hotel 52, a contemporary 32-bedroom establishment with a South American-themed restaurant.
The redeveloped Briar Dene pub is also set to reopen in this spring, with the Sir John Fitzgerald Group venue having undergone extensive refurbishment. We have been involved in the project and have seen first-hand how the whole area is being transformed to cater for evolving tastes; something that the Briar Dene is aiming to be a key part of.
The reopening of the venue, alongside the continued investment by North Tyneside Council, will aim to supplement the local authority’s goal of attracting more visitors to the area through high quality leisure opportunities.
A similar approach has been taken at Tynemouth, which now has a number of well-established venues. The key to success has been to cater for all tastes, which is why the chic and modern Allards Lounge, Lola Jeans and Barca Art Bar sit alongside traditional pubs such as the Cumberland Arms, Salutation Inn, Hugo’s at the Coast and the craft beer venue The Head of Steam.
Similarly, Longsands Fish Kitchen and Davant’s are supplemented by Lui’s and Ora, offering something for all palates – something not lost on those who operate the venues, which continue to strike the balance between the past, present and future.
The resurgence is in evidence up and down the coast, with the former Gandhi’s Temple on Sea Road, South Shields undergoing a £1 million conversion into Colmans Seafood Temple, serving local catches. Meanwhile, proposals have been submitted for a £4 million, 30-bedroom hotel in Amble to develop the town’s tourism offer.
The coastal leisure scene in the North East is thriving, and with investment ongoing, almost every month sees the opening of new pubs, bars and restaurants to further bolster the food, drink and entertainment offer for locals and visitors alike.