Spanish City Plaza Redevelopment
The new Spanish City looks absolutely wonderful. I can’t speak highly enough of Robertson. There was a lot of disbelief in the area about the restoration – because the building had been neglected for so long, people thought it would never happen. Robertson came up with the idea of public tours, taking local residents around the building. They have been wonderful with the residents and our staff.
Norma Redfearn | Elected Mayor, North Tyneside
Repositioning Spanish City as a destination venue for food and drink festivals, weddings and conferences.
In its prime, Spanish City was a key visitor attraction in Whitley Bay, attracting visitors in their thousands since its completion in 1910.
The project has delivered a revitalised hub within Whitley Bay, respecting the heritage of the dome and its adjacent spaces, while bringing the building up to the 21st century, with modern adaptable spaces that are accessible to the local community, whilst ensuring the building is respected and well maintained.
In addition to the renovated central dome, the spaces include restaurants and bars, as well as a central multi-use space. The restoration of a terrace of commercial units overlooking the sea front has created opportunities for a range of tenants including a Champagne and Oyster bar, ice cream parlours and of course, the traditional fish shops.
North Tyneside Council reinstate Whitley Bay as a destination.
Robertson North East, on behalf of Willmott Dixon had been working with the council since 2009 to identify the best routes to achieve the project objectives and this collaborative approach has been fundamental to the success of the project.
This effort was extended into the community, with a significant amount of community engagement and consultation to ensure there was a clear understanding of the priorities and concerns of stakeholders to achieve the best outcome for the site, the community and the land.
Careful restoration using technology and local skills
Given the type of restoration work involved in this project Robertson had to strike a balance between using locally skilled craftsmen and the latest technology. Works had to be completed by hand to preserve original fixtures and features, such as the ornate cornicing and wall moldings. Contrary to perception, the dome isn’t a true circle. This meant that the cornices, which were manufactured offsite, had to be slightly damp when they were brought onsite, to allow flexibility during installation.
To perform essential main structure works, Brokk technology (remote controlled demolition robots) were used, including abrasive blasting and remote demolition, in a safe, controlled manner. Not having people inside the building meant the operator could stand at a safe distance, reducing the risk of injury, and could reach areas within the structure that would prove very challenging otherwise.
The dome is incredibly fragile and could not have scaffold erected around it, therefore a team of abseilers were employed to clean and decorate it, which preserved the integrity and risk of damage.
The site was not a live environment but presented challenges in terms of balancing skills and trades between modern and traditional methods as a trade-off between quality and time.
Early contractor and community engagement
Early contractor involvement to support and secure £3.5m grant funding
Supporting North Tyneside Council in the very early stages of this project, Robertson's preconstruction team provided technical consultancy, buildability and cost/budget advice during development of the business case, also novating the design team to provide detailed designs. In addition, Robertson supported the submission of grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund and assisted with the business case. This early support helped secure £3.5m grant funding, enabling the project to proceed.
Recognition through national media and community engagement
The project received high media attention during refurbishment, including national coverage on BBC news. This has created excitement throughout the community, whilst promoting Whitley Bay as a destination.
To promote the restoration and showcase the specialist skills required for the refurbishment, Robertson organised ‘hard hat’ tours which were attended by nearly 1000 people.
The local economy
Spanish City has once again become a local and tourist destination, attracting new investment and producing a halo effect for the immediate area. The much needed facility has given Whitley Bay a new lease of life, with locals and tourists alike benefiting from the huge effort that took place to restore the landmark.
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