£7m revamp of South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough is a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity

South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough
South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough

Scarborough councillors have backed a multi-million-pound regeneration of the town’s historic South Cliff Gardens.

The borough council voted to provide £1.5m to a £7million project to transform the area into a community asset.

It followed an award by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund in January of a £4,665,700 grant for the project which will benefit current and future generations.

The National Lottery money will be added to funds already raised by the local South Cliff community for the Saving South Cliff Gardens project.

Today, councillors at the authority’s full council meeting rubber-stamped the council’s contribution to get the project started which aims to preserve the gardens’ unique heritage and improve them in a way that will reconnect them with today’s residents and visitors, in the same way that the original gardens did more than 100 years ago.

There were concerns raised by some members of the authority about how the council’s contribution to the scheme had jumped from around £300,000 to £1.5million.

Cabinet member Cllr Mike Cockerill (Ind) said that the money would be diverted from schemes of “a higher priority” in order to go towards the gardens.

Labour leader Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab) said the council had been “backed into a corner” over the funding.

With the public gallery full of members of the South Cliff Community Group Cllr Siddons said: “It would take a braver man than me to stand here and say we should not back this scheme but I think there should be an investigation into this ‘misunderstanding’ over our contribution to the scheme.”

He added that despite the financial concerns the Labour group supported the scheme.

Cabinet member Cllr Bill Chatt (Ind) said it was an opportunity not to be missed.

He said: “If we don’t do this and take the lottery money it will cost us much more to do it ourselves.”

Cllr Tom Fox (Con) said the council was “spending a penny to get back a pound” and praised the community.

Speaking before the meeting David Auton, chairman of South Cliff Community Group, which raised £100,000 for the project told councillors not to pass up the opportunity.

He said: “This is a once in a lifetime project, don’t waste the opportunity to save these gardens.”

The project will restore the historic infrastructure of the gardens, improve habitat management and provide new facilities that will complement the gardens’ historic setting and encourage greater community use.

The gardens will be made more accessible, dementia friendly and inclusive, heritage features will be restored, a new and innovative play area will be built and original heritage horticultural displays installed.

A successional tree planting programme will be adopted and a new Operational Centre building will be constructed for shared use by council staff and the community.

The council approved the funding to cheers from the community group in the gallery.

Carl Gavaghan , Local Democracy Reporting Service