That’s the damning conclusion of Scarborough Civic Society on a proposed £22 million town centre accommodation and shopping development backed by the borough council.
Last month, Buccleuch Property (Scarborough) Limited submitted a planning application to Scarborough Council for the demolition and redevelopment of the former Argos building in Newborough.
The project is being backed financially by Scarborough Council and will provide new retail units on the ground floor and accommodation for 52 in-training NHS doctors and nurses from Scarborough Hospital and 150 university students on the upper levels.
The scheme has been developed with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Scarborough Hospital, and CU Scarborough, part of the Coventry University Group.
The planning application is now out to consultation and the designs have not impressed the town’s civic society.
In a letter to the council, the society’s president Adrian Perry has set out an objection to the look of the proposed development and warned that some people may be “swayed” into supporting the plans by the thought of backing the NHS.
He wrote: “It is very difficult to understand how anyone could find the unimaginative building acceptable for this part of the town.
“However, ‘the road to Hell is paved with good intentions’ and we could see that the idea of supporting the NHS and Coventry University could sway many people.
“These concerns cannot overcome the fact that the mass of the proposed building is too dominant and inappropriate for its setting. The proposed building is much taller than the existing building and would miss the opportunity to open up views of [Scarborough] Castle.”
Mr Perry adds that the building is “hardly sympathetic” to its historic surrounding area and questions whether students should be housed in a “prime town centre site”.
Speaking when the plans were submitted, Buccleuch Property (Scarborough) Limited said that the planning application had undergone public consultations and discussions with Historic England.
A spokesman for the company said: “We understand the importance of the site and have taken great care to make sure our proposal fits within the character and setting of the surrounding area.
“We engaged with Historic England and Scarborough Borough Council over several months and they have provided invaluable feedback that we have taken on board and integrated into the forthcoming designs.
“The proposal has taken cues from the historic buildings in the town, which has created a cohesive development that makes a positive contribution to the conservation area and the setting of the nearby listed buildings.”
Mr Perry, on behalf of the civic society, concludes his objection with a plea to Scarborough Council.
He writes: “As far as the appearance of the building is concerned the Scarborough Renaissance Charter agreed to ‘reject the mediocre’.
“The proposed slab is uniform, bland and resembles a utilitarian barracks rather than a welcoming residential building.
“We should revive the spirit of renaissance and lift our sights higher to ensure a development which will inspire pride in our town.
“This proposal would replace one over-sized eyesore with another, even larger.”
The plans for the demolition and redevelopment of the site remain out to consultation.