Work begins to convert Scarborough's former Stephen Joseph Theatre and 'architectural gem' school building into 50 flats

Construction work to transform the former home of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre into 50 new apartments has begun.

By George Buksmann
Friday, 1st July 2022, 11:31 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 12:49 pm

Infiniti Construction, an award-winning Scarborough company, has won the multi-million pound contract to convert the "architecturally and culturally significant" Scarborough Westwood building, which is Grade II listed.

Plans for 28 residential apartments and a further 22 flats in a new three-storey block on the site of a former ceramics workshop near the school, along with 50 parking spaces, were unanimously approved by Scarborough Council in May 2021.

Alex Willgrass, Director at Infiniti Construction, said: "It is going to be a fantastic challenge to help enhance the fabric of one of the most architecturally and culturally significant buildings in the north of England, while creating modern, high quality, attractive, environmentally friendly living spaces."

Scarborough's former Westwood School is considered architecturally and culturally significant, and is Grade II listed.

The school building was once part of Yorkshire Coast College before closing in 2017. It had also been home to Scarborough High School for Boys.

As part of the development the historic Theatre in the Round, which housed the world premiere of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black before it transferred to become one the most famous plays in West End history, will now become a "co-working space" and will include both an open-plan office area, private meeting rooms, and toilets

The building which housed the former college campus was opened in 1902 and was called the Municipal School. It was the first major work by distinguished Scarborough architect Sir Edwin Cooper – who is said to have designed more buildings in the City of London than any architect since Sir Christopher Wren.

It also contains six intricate carved relief panels by the sculptor Henry Charles Fehr.

Infiniti Construction has won the multi-million pound contract to carry out the work.

Cllr David Jeffels, at the time of approving the work, said the plans would protect the character of the listed building.

He said: "We have here an architectural gem, one of Scarborough's iconic buildings.

"It ticks so many boxes by bringing a wonderful old building back into economic use and providing some first class accommodation right in the town centre."

Vehicles will continue to enter and exit the site through the existing entrance on Valley Bridge Road.

The building has housed several schools over the year and was formerly home to the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

During the planning process, the three-storey building was moved to take it further away from the nearby North Yorkshire County Council Pupil Referral Unit, which is behind Tesco.

It was the Boys' High School from 1922 to 1959 until that school moved to near the hospital, occupying the site of what is now Graham School.

In 1976, part of what was then Westwood County Modern School was converted to become the Stephen Joseph Theatre. The theatre at Westwood opened in October of the same year with a revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Mr Whatnot.

The three-vomitorium theatre design and shape was created for the move to Westwood, and was then reproduced exactly at the new Stephen Joseph Theatre venue on Northway.

Scarborough High School for Boys, pictured in 1946.

The 12-month project for Liverpool-based Sino Developers NW Ltd will create work for about 50 jobs.