Multiplex cinema for Scarborough's North Bay: We're ready to start building, say developers Benchmark Leisure

Scarborough’s long wait for a multiplex cinema could finally be over after borough councillors today backed plans for the North Bay development.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 7th November 2019, 2:11 pm
Artist's impression of the cinema complex
Artist's impression of the cinema complex

The authority’s planning committee approved the application for the six-screen attraction on the site of the former Atlantis water park.

It is the third time the scheme has been given planning permission but the committee was told that the scheme was now “ready to go”.

Jake Stentiford, the agent for the developer, Benchmark Leisure, said that the approval from the council was “all that was needed” before work could finally begin on the cinema.

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He added that the previous schemes had fallen through due to changes in the restaurant market but that operators were now signed up and the scheme was ready to be built.

The wait for a multiplex cinema in Scarborough has become a long epic production with a number of false dawns over the last four years.

Earlier this year, Benchmark Leisure announced it was delaying the proposed opening date of the cinema complex for the third time, blaming the difficulties in securing restaurants to be part of the scheme.

The development was due to be open in 2018, that was then pushed back until July 2019 and then, most recently, changed to late 2020.

The scheme is for a six-screen cinema with 53 apartments, a gym, sky bar, five restaurants and five retail units.

There would be 71 car parking spaces, with 12 reserved for staff of the businesses. The plans originally approved had more than 300 public parking spaces.

At today’s meeting Cllr John Atkinson (no political affiliation), a Northstead ward councillor where the cinema would be located, urged the committee to reject the plan due to its appearance, saying it was not in keeping with “a tourist area and an area of outstanding beauty”.

He added: “On behalf of the town and the tourists we don’t want to be looking at this every time we pass, [it is] something that looks like an office block from a financial district.”

Committee chairman Cllr Eric Broadbent (Lab), who also represents the Northstead ward, responded: “Perhaps I speak to different people in the ward but I speak to many residents who want progress on this site.

“I think the youngsters in our town are having to travel to York to go to the cinema and it will enhance this area.”

The councillors were told that following a viability assessment the developer would not be required to pay approximately £770,000 in Section 106 monies, which would have been used to provide affordable housing, school places and play facilities.

Instead, £40,000 will be paid towards highways schemes in the area of the cinema.

Cllr David Jeffels (Con) said there had been “many false dawns” when it came to the cinema but he was pleased that it looked like an end could be in sight.

He added: “I think the benefits to the borough from this development could be very great indeed.”

The plans were approved by 14 votes to 1.