Back to glory days: Work to start on £7m South Cliff Gardens restoration

Work could start next month on a £7 million project to restore Scarborough’s historic South Cliff Gardens following the appointment of a contractor.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 7:27 am

Scarborough Council’s cabinet has approved the appointment of PBS Construction (NE) Ltd as the main contractor for the scheme which aims to restore the 200-year-old gardens to its former glory.

The South Cliff Gardens project is being funded by a £4.6m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund, £1.6 million from the borough council and the remaining balance coming from Section 106 funding, match-funding and the South Cliff Gardens Group.

The Grade II Historic Gardens had fallen into disrepair over recent decades but the securing of the funding for the project in 2019 gave the area a chance to return to its heyday.

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Work on the £7m restoration is set to begin in March.

Chris Bourne, the project officer for the scheme for Scarborough Council, told the cabinet that it was hoped that work would start in March with a 12-month completion time estimated.

Mr Bourne said the appointment of PBS Construction will now go through a 10-day window for potential legal challenges to the decision to be lodged from firms that were not successful during the tendering process before it becomes official.

Council leader Cllr Steve Siddons welcomed progress on the scheme and paid tribute to everyone who had been involved.

The 200-year-old gardens include 14 timber and concrete shelters, believed to be the largest number of historic shelters in any public garden in the country.

He said: “It is a fantastic piece of work that is now hopefully moving ahead.

“It really does set the standard for community involvement I think and something we should reflect on as we move forward.”

The authority’s legal director, Lisa Dixon, added that the scheme would be a “ground-breaking project” when it was completed.

The cabinet report noted that due to the delays and some changes to the proposed new public toilets that make up an element of the scheme the budget had increased by approximately £120,000.

The 200-year-old gardens include 14 timber and concrete shelters, believed to be the largest number of historic shelters in any public garden in the country, and feature 19th Century Egyptian gates, Italian steps designed by Joseph Paxton, iconic Italian gardens, Holbeck Clock Tower, the world’s first beach chalets, rose garden and the much-loved Clock Café.

As part of the project a boarded up tunnel built in 1874 beneath the railway tracks of the cliff lift will be reopened to the public.

The tunnel was used to join the gardens so people could pass beneath the cliff lift before structural issues saw its enforced closure.

The project will also 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.

There will also be an annual programme of events put on for the local community and Scarborough’s visitors to enjoy.