A Whitby heritage centre has been proposed as part of the redevelopment of the harbour’s Endeavour Wharf.
The Whitby Gazette revealed recently how the borough council was in discussions with an individual contractor about using the harbour as part of the Dogger Bank wind farm development.
However, local groups in the town have spoken out against the plans - unless the scheme forms part of a wider regeneration of the harbour.
“It’s not about stopping the wind farm,” said Whitby Town Councillor Phil Trumper, “It’s about getting all the industries around the harbour working together.”
Whitby Harbour Board chairman Cllr Mike Cockerill recently announced in the Gazette that he had been contacted by a company interested in using the harbour in relation to the wind farm at Dogger Bank. Since then, harbour users have reacted with concern that traditional industries such as fishing could be lost to make way for the new development.
However, Whitby Town councillors have suggested that the wind farm could exist alongside fishing, tourism, and other harbour users, if an innovative partnership is undertaken.
By creating a single structure on the wharf, there could be an area for the wind farm services, the fish market could be relocated there, and a Whitby Sea Heritage Centre opened.
Cllr Trumper even suggested that a tall ship could return to the harbour, such as when the Grand Turk was berthed alongside the wharf.
This could make a sustainable harbour, generating income through both fish landings and entrance fees to the heritage centre and ship, which could be reinvested to make the fish market sustainable.
“We are concerned that the fish market could disappear if something isn’t done to prevent it,” added Cllr Trumper. “This is just an idea, and people might not agree with us. But we are open to all ideas and we want people to get involved.”
In addition to an exhibition detailing Whitby’s history, walkways from the heritage centre could lead through into the fish market, where visitors could see boats land their catch and the auctions taking place.
This would make an income-generating tourist attraction out of one the town’s most famous industries.
“If it’s well-designed you can incorporate all these different things into it, and it could be a multi-purpose building,” explained Cllr Trumper.
Cllr Trumper talked about the existing fish market not being fit for purpose due to its location and “ugly” design.
Praising Shaun Wood of Whitby Fish Sales for taking on the huge challenge of keeping the fish market open, Cllr Trumper said: “Anyone who would have taken that on, they need a medal really. But we need to look at how to make it sustainable to maintain fishing in Whitby.”
Any scheme is likely to cost millions of pounds to put into force, but Cllr Trumper said the income it generates would be priceless for the town and harbour.
If the fish market was to be shifted to Endeavour Wharf, it would allow the existing area along Pier Road to be replaced with a more attractive feature such as a promenade.