Recent regeneration has increased the resident population, especially at the New Quay and Dolphin Quays, though not to former levels, and there are no schools in the conservation areas. However, the Fish Quay is recognised as a valuable educational resource by both local and distant schools.
The High and Low Lights are icons of the Tyne in general and North Shields in particular. They have been superseded as navigational lights but are still landmarks used by mariners and pedestrians alike to find their way. The long-established nautical instrument manufacturer John Lilley and Gillie Limited, at Clive Street, is important both nationally and internationally and safety is the continuing concern of the operational Lifeboat Station by the Low Light.
The open spaces in the vicinity have their own nature conservation designations and, as plants and wild animals do not respect boundaries, the green and the built-up areas influence each other.
The steep banks between Union Quay and Tyne Street, and between Clive Street and Yeoman Street, are designated as protected public open space within the Council’s Unitary Development Plan. The green area leading from the river up Tanners Bank right up to the Metro line and Northumberland Park, and the River Tyne itself, are identified in the Tyne and Wear Nature Conservation Strategy as Wildlife Corridors and Wildlife Links.
The foreshore area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an area from the mouth of the Tyne down to the Black Middens is a Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site with international significance. Providing a variety of habitats, this site of regional nature conservation importance is identified by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.
With a mix of river traffic, industry, leisure, nature, history and housing, the Fish Quay and the New Quay form a vibrant area with something of interest for everyone. There are a number of traditional pubs and excellent fish restaurants which attract local trade and customers from afar, including cyclists for whom the area is the ‘first and last watering-hole’ on the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route. Yet the Fish Quay continues as the local fishing industry’s working environment. Here, work, living, leisure and safeguarding the environment need to sit comfortably side by side.