‘Floating cinema’ bid for North Street site?

Plans for cinema complex in North Street submitted by the Shaw family
Plans for cinema complex in North Street submitted by the Shaw family

Could a floating cinema be the answer to Scarborough’s multiplex question?

That is what is being proposed by Scarborough Council’s Labour Group following the cabinet’s decision not to put the North Street car park out to tender.

Cllr Steve Siddons wants the council to sell the space above the car park to developers to create a ‘floating cinema’, which would also retain the car park below.

He says this means the council would not lose the £300,000 the car park generates in revenue each year.

He said: “Pioneering councils and developers across the country have already solved the problem of building a town centre cinema and keeping parking spaces.

“Apart for the entrance, everything is built one floor up, with a car park at ground level. Indeed, that formed part of the proposal for the North Bay application, so is clearly viable.

“Let’s test the market and be more innovative by retaining the North Street car park and its valuable revenue, whilst taking a capital receipt from a cinema developer.”

The council granted planning permission for a cinema on the car park seven years ago but since then it has dragged its feet on putting the site out to tender,

Last week, at a behind-closed-doors meeting, the cabinet once again declined to put the car park up for sale, effectively ending the hopes for the cinema.

Nikolas Shaw, owner of the Opera House Casino and man behind the cinema plans, said he is still assessing his options following the cabinet decision and did not want to make a comment when approached by The Scarborough News.

Cllr Siddons added: “It’s about time this council stopped allowing developers to dictate what happens in our borough.

“It’s time they put residents’ needs first, not developers profits.”

However, Benchmark Leisure Ltd, the company pushing for the North Bay cinema on the former Atlantis site has told The Scarborough News it is to resubmit its plan to the council.

Alex Duce, development director from Benchmark, said: “The planning committee’s decision in April was naturally disappointing but we still remain committed to delivering a cinema and associated development at the North Bay.

“We want to establish the north bay as a high-quality leisure destination and are already well underway with the water park development.

“The interest from cinema operators is very encouraging but clearly this will not last forever.

“With this decision, and the removal of uncertainty over the North Street site, we believe it will allow us to submit revised plans to the Council, negating the need for a lengthy appeal.

“If these revised plans are approved it will mean a major investment in the town in terms of both new leisure facilities and creating many new jobs.”

The decision not to appeal means the council will not face the possibility of a significant legal bill.

As the councillors went against their officers advice to refuse the North Bay cinema plans the council would have been liable to pay Benchmark’s legal costs if the planning inspector had reversed the committee’s decision.