Cinema site 'is an ancient burial ground'

The Newborough site which could be an ancient burial ground
The Newborough site which could be an ancient burial ground

In a twist reminiscent of the film Poltergeist, Scarborough’s proposed town centre cinema could be built on top of an ancient burial ground.

In the film, the owners of a property face spirits from a graveyard below. The Newborough cinema plans are due to go before the council today but the county’s archaeology department has warned any work could disturb a 16th century Carmelite Friary burial plot.

A map of the area showing the friary

A map of the area showing the friary

The scheme, earmarked for the Queen Street, Newborough and Market Street in the heart of the resort’s holiday area, would see a six-screen cinema, five restaurants and shops created by MRP Fund.

Planning officers say in a report for today’s meeting of Scarborough Council’s planning and development committee, that the development will result in increased economic activity, attracting more tourists.

David Walker, head of planning services, said: “The project has the potential to support and diversify the night time economy of the town centre.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s archaeology department has told the planners: “There is some potential for disturbing human remains and the remains of the Carmelite Friary.”

The plans for the cinema

The plans for the cinema

As a result, the committee is being recommended to impose a condition that an archaeological investigation is carried out on the site.

But the scheme has resulted in opposition from Benchmark Leisure, the company behind the big holiday and leisure development at Scarborough’s North Bay, which has itself got outline permission to build a seven-screen cinema complex and commercial units at the former Atlantis site.

The company says it is “a matter of serious concern that the Newborough scheme could impact negatively on the success of the committed North Bay development due to the natural

limitations on demand for cinema screens in the town”.

“In its current form, it would result in unacceptable harm to planning interests and conflict with the North Bay development plan.”

However, the planning committee will be told: “Market forces are likely to determine which scheme is implemented.” Both developments are being recommended for approval.