A long-awaited agreement which has delayed Scarborough’s £14 million water park is set to be approved so work can finally begin.
Next week senior councillors will decide whether to enter into a covenant with the county council and the park’s developers, promising that it will not open unless the A64 park and ride is extended.
If the agreement is finalised, Scarborough Council can then issue a planning decision – which would allow Benchmark to apply for a “newt licence” so early works can start.
There are thousands of newts on the site and a licence needs to be secured from Natural England in order to protect the creatures which live and breed there.
Cllr Tom Fox, the leader of Scarborough Council, said: “Without the section 106 agreement being approved the scheme can’t progress or it gets compromised. Most of this was agreed a long time ago, but we need to enter into this covenant to allow the next stage to continue.
“The most important part comes in September when a final decision on the scheme will be made.”
The covenant includes details on who is liable to pay for the extended park and ride service, which will see the service operate at 30-minute intervals between 9.30am and 6pm.
Benchmark has agreed to pay the county council - the Highways authority - £69,000 each year for a period of five years.
However, if Scarborough Council decides to build the park itself or offer the contract to another developer, it will have to pay the subsidy.
Cllr Fox said: “The park and ride system will be extended and part of the agreement will be to include transport to the water park within the existing route of the service. The council needs to enter into the agreement to support this.”
Roland Duce, the man behind the regeneration of the North Bay, has previously blamed the county council for holding up the scheme by taking “a ridiculous amount of time” to process the section 106 agreement.
The water park was set to open next spring, however the opening date has now been put back to February 2015.
In May he told The Scarborough News: “The operator said unless they were guaranteed a launch date of May 2014, they didn’t want it until 2015. Then they can have it eight weeks before the rush starts so they can do a soft opening to make sure they are dealing with it properly.
“It is extremely frustrating. The section 106 agreement is taking a ridiculous amount of time to do. It is not the fault of Scarborough Council as they have had as tough as time as any, I think the problem is predominantly with the county council.
“Had we had the agreement four months ago, which we should have done, we would have been able to get the proposals agreed.”
The attraction, near the Open Air Theatre, will form part of a £150 million leisure complex. It is expected to attract up to half a million visitors a year and is set to include a wave pool, a lazy river and an infinity pool overlooking the North Sea. The big draw is expected to be a flume known as the Tornado, which will be the biggest of its kind in the country.
The 1,500-capacity water park, which was finally approved by planners last August, will be operated by German company Alpamare.
Officers have recommended that Scarborough Council’s Cabinet enters into the section 106 agreement when it meets on Tuesday.
Detailed proposals for the development will be the subject of a further report to Full Council on September 9.