New pool will sink Sunderland’s seafront

Sunderland City Council Fulwell Ward Councillors Bob Francis,  John Wiper and George Howe at Seaburn.
Sunderland City Council Fulwell Ward Councillors Bob Francis, John Wiper and George Howe at Seaburn.
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SUNDERLAND’S seafront will haemorrhage visitors to a new development in a rival resort in South Tyneside, it has been claimed.

Fulwell councillors fear the new 25metre pool and leisure facilities under construction next to Little Haven beach in South Shields will damage efforts to revamp Wearside’s seafront.

They are now calling on Sunderland City Council to take urgent action to bring forward plans for facilities in Seaburn as part of efforts to revamp the city’s coastline.

Conservative seafront spokesman Councillor George Howe, who represents Fulwell, said: “South Tyneside is spending £17million on these facilities which will be ready in time for the Olympic games.

“It’s unbelievable, when we have been pushing to get on in Seaburn for a very long time. Why is it and how is it that South Shields can come up with £17million for such a project and Sunderland can’t?”

Coun Howe said Sunderland’s seafront had poor wet-weather facilities and families would simply leave Sunderland in favour of South Shields because of what it has to offer.

Fulwell councillors have suggested Seaburn’s empty fairground as a potential site for a new leisure pool.

Tory leader Robert Oliver said it was worrying that the South Shields pool would be ready next year and Sunderland had no chance of getting a competing development in place as soon.

“If we don’t have a pool, people will simply go to the one down the road,” he said. “South Shields has got in first.”

The Conservatives’ pool concerns come after a series of debates where councillors have bemoaned Sunderland’s lack of facilities compared to its smaller rival.

Recent years have seen millions ploughed in to revamping South Shield’s Marine Park, building a new bowling alley and leisure complex and further improvements to the borough’s coastline.

South Shields also has a popular fairground and a more-developed promenade than Sunderland.

The city council is now making a renewed effort to redevelop Wearside’s seafront and £1.5million has been earmarked for initial improvements.

There has already been some work to resculpt parts of the promenade and the new landmark pier gates, designed by artist Fiona Herron, are scheduled to be installed this year.

The council carried out a consultation on the area in 2009 which led to the creating of its Seafront Regeneration Strategy to guide the future development of Seaburn and Roker seafront.

Councillor Bryan Charlton, the senior councillor with the “prosperous city” brief on Sunderland’s ruling cabinet, has responsibility for the improvement programme.

“The coastline and golden beaches at Roker and Seaburn are among the city’s best features,” he said.

“The overwhelming response from the initial seafront consultation was to make Seaburn a family-focused resort offering high-quality indoor and outdoor facilities for both residents and visitors.

“This is reflected in the vision for Seaburn which advocates a leisure-led development at Ocean Park featuring a mix of uses available all year round.”