Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet today backed a new strategic vision for the site in order to create an “iconic development” for the town.
In February the council set up a new cross-party task group to examine all options for the area following an independent review of the council’s 2014 decision to demolish the former theatre at a cost of more than £4 million and enter into an agreement with Flamingo Land to build an attraction in its place.
The task group’s report has now been endorsed by council’s cabinet, and the authority will now move forward with what it is calling the “Bay Side South” vision.
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Flamingo Land will still be part of the negotiations but it could be the end of its plans for a seaside attraction which included a 60m-high “Cliffhanger” ride, a rollercoaster, and a four-storey building housing restaurants and play areas.
While making no specific proposals about what the development should be, the task group identified several themes that should be met by any plan.
They include enhancing the town’s natural heritage assets, enabling residents to live better lives, and promoting good health, education and active lifestyles.
A report prepared for the cabinet meeting noted that the group was keen that the site’s redevelopment would result in facilities that would “captivate all ages” while being “accessible and affordable to local residents and visitors”.
It would also need to support an all-year-round economy.
Despite Ryedale-based Flamingo Land remaining the council’s preferred bidder, the all-party group hoped the future focus didn’t just relate to leisure and tourism and wanted provision for other economic growth sectors such as digital, health and engineering, education and skills along with career development for 18 to 25 year olds across the borough.
A desire for the redevelopment to better connect the town centre, beach and harbour forms part of the vision for the site.
Speaking at today’s cabinet meeting, cabinet member Cllr Janet Jefferson quoted the findings of the task group when discussing what should replace the Futurist.
She said: “We want to see a truly iconic development in this location as an opportunity to embrace innovative solutions to link past, present and future, creating at Bay Side South a vibrant and sustainable environment which will enhance well-being and quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”
Council leader Cllr Steve Siddons thanked Flamingo Land for “sticking with us” while the council went through the process of examining the proposals and said he looked forward to working with them.
Conservative Cllr David Jeffels told the cabinet that he felt the site should be remarketed, both nationally and across Europe, and that a nation-wide architectural competition could be held to “generate new interest in this prime site”.
He added: “The Futurist Site provides Scarborough with a golden opportunity to have a development which will not only be iconic but which will be a catalyst to regenerate not only the Foreshore but the town centre as a whole.”
Cabinet member Cllr Liz Colling responded that an architectural competition was not the way to approach a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and said there were a number of other benefits that had to be addressed as well as how the development looked.
Cllr Colling added that it would be “inappropriate” to market the site while Flamingo Land remained the preferred bidder and had “stood by the council in good faith”.