AUG 2013:

The new Redcar Beacon aka The Vertical Pier, now has another alias..."The Redcar Buncle"! The £1.8m tower recently made the shortlist for national architecture award The Carbuncle Cup! It didn't win but the question has to be asked - is it a carbuncle? The council think not, citing 100,000 visitors since Easter as proof. I think the majority of people, it's fair to say, seem a bit non-plussed by it. It certainly wasn't wanted and a Coastal View poll before it was built gave it a resounding thumbs down, 98% i think it was! But it was built, of course it was! And now there it stands...a six-storey circular stack of concrete, glass and cosmetic steel mesh. There's a cafe on the ground floor, a viewing platform on the top and on each floor between, units for creative businesses....hang on isn't that what the new £8m Palace Hub is for? That's the other new showpiece building along the road which comprises four-storeys of creative business units, a gallery and another cafe. So we have the two landmark developments in semi-competition and both with empty units?! The Hub is 60% empty. The top unit of the Beacon has just a bucket and spade and a pile of sand in it! Was there a virtual seagull I can't remember...

So the question that really needs asking is: Has the public had good value for the £10m spent on their behalf by the council? I would say resoundingly NO. Both buildings are ill-thought out and badly designed and as such will not help to regenerate Redcar as much as the Council hype would have us believe. The Beacon HAS boosted tourism and will do so for a year or two. After that I can see it fading as it just isn't impressive enough nor high enough to have that wow factor to keep bringing the crowds back. The views are great but they are also partially obstructed due to the poor design. And it would have been a lot better if the elevator was on the outside and had windows! The Hub on the otherhand is not for tourists so you could well ask what is it doing on the seafront? It's just a business centre for creative industries and on a scale that far exceeds demand in a town like Redcar. It should have been built half the size and in the ailing High Street where investment is so needed. The Hub's Gallery IS good and seemingly popular but it's no money spinner. It's run on a short-term lease by volunteers and should continue at least until the council find a business willing to pay rent and move in. So bottom line, how many actual jobs have been created by this £10m investment? The answer is hardly any. So is The Beacon a carbuncle? Sadly yes and in The Hub a white elephant to go with it !
CH / 8.13