Town centre £22 million regeneration plan moves forward - this is what's next for Argos site

A disused building in Scarborough town centre is set to be demolished to make way for 200 flats for students and NHS staff and an associated market square.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 2:32 pm
The Argos site in Scarborough town centre
The Argos site in Scarborough town centre

Scarborough Council’s cabinet has agreed in principle to progress with the £22 million plan, financed through borrowing, for the former Argos building in Newborough.

It would be replaced with a scheme drawn up in collaboration with Coventry University Scarborough and the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs services at Scarborough Hospital.

As part of the plans, the council is also looking to creating a “market square” which could include demolishing some buildings at St Helen’s Square, which is adjacent to the Argos site.

The councillors on the cabinet heard that both schemes could “unlock” tens of millions of pounds of funding the council was in the process of applying for through the Towns Fund and Future High Street Funds.

During the meeting, held on online platform Zoo, the authority’s cabinet member for Housing Cllr Carl Maw said the market square development was “absolutely essential to the regeneration of the area”.

The cabinet voted to progress with both schemes in principle, providing a number of viability assessments are met.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for Inclusive Growth Cllr Liz Colling said the developments had risks but were vital to the borough’s future.

She said: “We all accept the economic environment will be difficult but I absolutely believe that the council’s post-covid recovery is an opportunity for us to build back better.

“It’s an opportunity to undertake strategic investments to kickstart our economy and I’m firmly of the belief that this should be us in our civic leadership role that does that.

“It is an opportunity to improve our offer for young people. We have all seen that we are losing young people who are leaving the area to further their careers or their education.

“It’s an opportunity to attract skilled professionals that our NHS needs and never has that been more starkly highlighted than over the last few months..

“We all know the issues of deprivation in this area and this is an opportunity to make a real step change in our borough.”

Independent cabinet member Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff was a sceptic of the scheme when it went before the council last year.

At a meeting today, Tuesday June 16, she said that it was important the scheme moved forward.

She added: “I voted against the proposal but I’m a democrat and believe if people vote for something then you should implement it.

“If we don’t do it nobody else will and we will end up in an even worse situation due to the economy.

“If we in local government and national government don’t spend money in the next few years then we are in big trouble.”

Conservative Cllr David Jeffels, a member of the shadow cabinet set up by the opposition party, called for a “short deferral” of the decision to see what impact the pandemic would have on potential funding of the scheme.

He said: “When the council approved the proposals for the redevelopment of the Argos site complex last July, the world was very different to what it is today as a result of the pandemic.

“The aspirations for the site were in many ways commendable but today we need to focus on the regeneration of our town centre as a whole.”

Cllr Colling said the decision would be subject to a delay anyway as it was contingent on a number of conditions being met before it became official, including the granting of planning permission which is not expected before the end of September.