Scarborough has suffered from ‘architectural ugliness’ since the 70s

Further to the recent furore over the proposed redevelopment of the Futurist site, it may be worthwhile taking a moment or two and look at more than half a century of constructive development in Scarborough.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th February 2019, 11:11 am
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 11:12 am
Brunswick Shopping Centre. Picture: Harry Atkinson.
Brunswick Shopping Centre. Picture: Harry Atkinson.

Sadly, with some notable exceptions, this has not been an unqualified success.

I do not doubt for one moment Flamingo Land, in their considered approach in adding this major rebuild to this town’s offer, are fully aware of this.

The Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints in Scarborough celebrates it's 50th Anniversary. .pic Richard ponter 164204 q

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Likewise, while I do not doubt for one minute our elected representatives have the best interests of Scarborough at heart and possess many significant skills in governance and administration to that end, an appreciation of the built environment, unfortunately has not, historically, featured particularly highly among those qualities.

One only has to spend a little time looking at the numerous carbuncles erected in the name of progress in recent decades to understand this sentiment.

I have nothing against redevelopment itself, only the manner and nature of what has constituted this redevelopment.

A well-known adage states, ‘we shape buildings, thereafter they shape us,’ and, historically, a failure to understand this has not served Scarborough particularly well.

Witness the architectural ugliness visited upon this town since the 1970s.

This list includes the depressingly familiar: Pavilion, Balmoral, Olympia, Brunswick, all of these are well-known; others may, with consideration, be added.

The South Bay Pool infill, Christ Church, Falsgrave corner – Seamer Road junction and, indeed, the police station.

This small selection represents only the most significant tip of a sizable iceberg.

I feel confident readers of this newspaper could add many more examples of smaller, less prominent buildings, which are, at best, ugly, and of no architectural merit whatsoever.

The devil is in the detail they say and unfortunately, this town has singularly failed to grasp this.

While it is sad that the Futurist has been demolished, no amount of wishful thinking is going to bring it back.

What must happen now is that whatever replaces it is not only fit for a 21st Century purpose but also adds to Scarborough’s still considerable ambience.

I feel confident Flamingo Land understands this sentiment.

Nobody relishes pastiche, far from it, but Scarborough is almost unique amongst seaside towns – it has a history and legacy more or less unrivalled by other British seaside resorts.

It must meld innovation and tradition.

This will not be easy but this is definitely achievable if the right people make the right decisions at the right time.

Michael Knaggs

Box Hill