Regeneration in recent years has increased the resident population, initially more so to the west at New Quay and Dolphin Quays, and now more so to the east at the Irvin Building and Bell Street. Though not to former levels, the area is becoming ever more popular as a place to live not just visit. The Fish Quay is also recognised as a valuable educational resource by both local and more distant schools, even though there are no schools located within the North Shields Fish Quay conservation area.
The tall, bright white new High and Low Light buildings are icons on the Tyne and often form the back drop of many a photograph or painting, with the more subtle Old High and Low Light buildings nearby blending more into the surrounds. These buildings have been superseded as navigational lights but are still landmarks used by mariners and pedestrians alike to find their way.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, formerly on Clive Street, was important both nationally and internationally and safety is the continuing concern of the operational Lifeboat Station by the Old Low Light and fish market shed.
Green open spaces on the Quay have their own nature conservation designations and, as plants and wild animals do not respect boundaries, the green and the built environment influence and compliment each other.
The steep banks between Bell Street/Union Quay and Tyne Street, and between Clive Street and Yeoman Street, is designated as open space within the Council’s Local Plan (adopted July 2017). The green space leading from the river up Tanners Bank to the Metro line and Northumberland Park, as well as the River Tyne itself, is identified within the Local Plan and Tyne and Wear Nature Conservation Strategy as Wildlife Corridors.
The foreshore is designated as a site of special scientific interest and the area from the mouth of the Tyne to the Black Middens is a Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site with international significance. Providing a variety of habitats, this site is of regional nature conservation importance and 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 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 , tourism and safeguarding the environment need to sit comfortably side by side.
``The Fish Quay is a vibrant area with something of interest for everyone...``