Whitby Marina, North Yorkshire

The new marina facilities provide vastly improved facilities for marina users and will encourage more people to visit Whitby, boosting the visitor economy.

Steeped in history, Whitby is a fantastic visitor destination. From the ruins of the ancient abbey, the narrow streets of the old town, the hotels on the West Cliff dating from the railway inspired boom time, the sandy beaches and the old fishing harbour; there is something for the day visitor and the longer stay visitor. Some of these visitors will arrive from the sea by yacht or boat and the new marina facilities ensure that these visitors have all the amenities they need close at hand, making their visit a good and memorable one.

Project history

Whitby Harbour has a long history going back at least 800 years and has been in local authority management since 1905. More recently it has seen the introduction and growth of the marina to service the leisure boat sector.  Located on the west bank of the River Esk, the marina is in the heart of Whitby.

The old marina facilities block and the new rock revetments

New marina facilities have been developed to include many more new berths, with access to water, electricity and sewerage services, and a modern on-shore facility block providing services for marina users and toilets for general visitors.

Project need

Whitby is widely recognised as a jewel of the east coast.  It has a strong cultural and historical heritage which contributes to its economy. However, due to the town’s relatively remote geographical location, poor transport infrastructure, and limitations on available land and property its potential economic development is being constrained.

Whitby Upper Harbour has been identified as one of the key elements within the Whitby Renaissance programme. This has risen out of a need to regenerate this underutilised area within the town.

The original plans for the area were far more extensive, including a larger building than the one which has now been built.  However, the new additional pontoon berths have been extremely popular – it is over subscribed - and the new facilities are very welcome.

Project Elements

Berthing and Pontoons

Demand for berths in Whitby is high and there was strong evidence showing that additional berths would provide a substantial boost to Whitby’s visitor economy. According to an assessment of the Whitby Marina Proposal in 2006 by Peter Waring, a marina consultant to the Royal Yachting Association, the average annual spend by a marina-based boat owner  is over £3,500. An update to a survey carried out by the British Tourist Authority estimated that visiting yachtsmen spend between £30 and £50 per day.  It showed the need for berths for visiting boats in addition to those for permanent moorings. This was recognised in the plans with a proportion of new pontoon berths being reserved for visiting boats.

The new facilities building and pontoons

The marina already had 100 berths in place, 75% of these were replaced and the remaining 25% have been refurbished within the last 5 years. A further 40 berths were installed. Facilities available at each berth now include provision for water and electricity and a central sewage pump out station to the north of the development.

It was originally planned for there to be 60 new pontoon berths, however, this was reduced to 40 in order to maximise the functionality, safety and navigation of the pontoons. This gave a total of 140 berths on the West pontoon, completed in 2007.

Rock revetment works

Improvements to the revetments were deemed necessary to protect the banks of the Esk and the marina from river erosion which was considered to be a serious threat. Thousands of tonnes of rock were installed on the upper harbour riverbank and this part of the scheme was completed in May 2008.

The view from inside the new facilities building

Improving the onshore facilities

The original plans were for a marina building (Water Resource Facility) to not only house marina facilities, including public and marina-user toilets, laundry, showers and marina managers office; but also a meeting/function room, café, and business units.  The Water Resource Facility was designed as a two storey building on the harbour-side.  These additional facilities were considered as being important to economic development in the town, providing much needed commercial accommodation within the town, in a desirable location. However, local opposition to the scheme focused on the size of the building and the designs were subsequently scaled down. Only facilities for the marina were retained.

Planning difficulties

The plans for the marina scheme suffered several difficulties in achieving planning permission. Concern was expressed on the lack of a risk assessment relating to hydrological issues for the proposed pontoon scheme. This was addressed with a hydrological study.

Planning permission for the onshore facilities was more complex as objections were raised about the scale of the building. There was a long running campaign against the marina facilities that continued after the design had been finalised and planning approval granted.  Eventually an increase in budgeted costs led to the project being put before the full Council.  On the basis of financial risk Members decided the scope and scale of the project had to be reconsidered.

Based on the reduced scale project SBC undertook lengthy public consultation and by working in partnership with stakeholders and formulating focus groups developed designs for alternative proposals for Marina Facilities as a result of a positive response to the new plans the scheme gained approval in January 2009.

Funding Issues

The funding for the project was based on the original project proposal.  The projects original objective of creating business space and employment was key to attracting funding from Yorkshire Forward and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  Funding from these sources is conditional on the delivery of economic outputs.  The changes in the scope of the project led to renegotiation of the funding.

The building, though functional, has been designed to make use of natural light

Project delivery

Autumn onwards Whitby Harbour User Group develops and endorses outline plans

June- Endorsed in principle by SBC
July - Public consultation and approval granted by Whitby Renaissance Executive
September - Project endorsed by Whitby Town Council
October - Planning permission refused

February - Further public consultation, revised project approved by SBC

February - New pontoon berths installed
March - Planning amendments approval granted
September - Members endorsed the project to be restricted to the original Council budget contribution.

May - Revetment works completed
October - Further public consultation – onshore facilities

January - Planning approved for onshore facilities, work starts and is completed on the onshore


Scarborough Borough Council £1,300,000
Yorkshire Forward £804,733
ERDF £217,000


• New berths enable increased visitors numbers and longer stays leading to increased spend in Whitby, thereby supporting the local economy.
• The new berths were in such high demand that a ballot had to be held to allocate spaces.
• Important work to prevent river erosion in the harbour was undertaken.
• A popular design for the marina facilities building was agreed.
• New public toilets are an important visitor facility.

Lessons Learnt

• Consultation is a sensitive and ongoing process.  It is important to not just get people agreeing to the project at the outset but to ensure that they are kept “on side” throughout.
• “Ownership” of a scheme by the stakeholders and local community is essential when working on sensitive developments. This is best achieved through engaging people directly and giving them all the facts.
• Concerted opposition of a long period created a good deal of friction and bad feeling on both sides.

More information about this success story

To find out more about Whitby Marina please visit www.yorkshireports.co.uk

Alternatively, contact:
Whitby Harbour Office
Endeavour Wharf
North Yorkshire
YO21 1DN
01947 602354

Mark Firth
Yorkshire Forward
Victoria House
2 Victoria Place
West Yorkshire
LS12 5AE

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