Whitley Bay landmark set for next Stack scheme
Danieli Group has revealed plans to house a leisure destination at the former Empress Ballroom.
Built in 1910, the ballroom in the Spanish City complex went on to become the Carlton Club bingo hall in the 1960s before falling into disrepair and being closed.
A leisure consent is already in place: owner Mark Holmes had put together £3m plans for a leisure and community venue that were approved in March 2021 but were stymied by the Covid pandemic and storm damage.
That consent, listed on North Tyneside’s planning portal with the reference 20/01563/FUL, covers redevelopment including various commercial uses, including function room/wedding suite, cabaret/performance venue, late night venue/cocktail bar and restaurant, with two pop-up bars and two commercial units to be added to the upper floors.
A two-storey extension with external terrace was greenlit within this consent, and Danieli has affirmed its intention to develop the terrace.
Mario Minchella Architects drew up the scheme for the original applicant. A series of applications seeking to tweak that consent have been made this year by Danieli as the operator looks to add the venue to its growing roster.
Dunwoodie Swift Architects, a regular partner of Danieli, has now stepped in, working with a team that also includes planner Savills, Nicholson Nairn (advising on the dancing ladies sculptures) and Michael Atkinson Architecture & Heritage.
In a heritage statement accompanying the proposals, the specialist said: “The development proposals will provide the financial investment to ensure the Spanish City Theatre building fabric is maintained in a good condition structurally both now and in the future. This secures the last remaining underdeveloped element set within the Spanish City complex.”
Danieli has built on the popularity of its original container-based development in Newcastle with other schemes – some container-based, such as at Seaburn in Sunderland, and some not, such as the proposal to convert Durham’s former M&S. The common factor is live entertainment, drink and street food.
Neill Winch, chief executive of the Danieli Group, said: “Subject to planning and licensing, it will bring an underutilised building – and much-loved heritage asset – back into use. We are delighted to hopefully be able to continue to build STACK’s strong presence in the North East with this new and exciting venture.”
Holmes added: “When we bought the Empress Ballroom, we had a vision for the magnificent venue, it’s really a hidden treasure in the Spanish City. Our plans were good, but now Neill Winch and STACK have turbo charged these plans and I am convinced they will deliver the quality venue that will benefit Whitley Bay, residents, and the whole community.”
Other projects in the Stack pipeline are Middlesbrough, Bishop Auckland, a newly consented site in Carlisle, Lincoln and a new site in Newcastle – the original having operated as a “meanwhile use” in the Pilgrim Street development area. The variation lodged most recently can be viewed on North Tyneside’s planning portal with the reference 23/00659//FUL.