Controversial plans for ex-Argos site in Scarborough deferred after 'misinformation' spread and residents' talks planned
Controversial plans for a major town-centre redevelopment have been deferred after a "worrying" spread of "misinformation", Scarborough Council leader Steve Siddons has said.
Developers Wrenbridge and Buccleuch Property plan to demolish the existing former Argos building on Newborough and replace it with ground-floor retail units and accommodation for 50 in-training NHS doctors and nurses from Scarborough Hospital and 150 university students on the upper levels.
However, the plans have been met with uproar from a number of residents with many opposing the development and advocating for an alternative use of the space.
The plans were due to be determined in November, but the council's leader, Cllr Steve Siddons, has now requested that the planning application be deferred until December after what he says is a "worrying" spread of "misinformation" and so that meetings can be held with residents and businesses.
Cllr Steve Siddons said: "While construction costs nationally have clearly risen over the last year, dubious maths about rising costs have been used to fuel claims about the financial viability of the project and people with an axe to grind have used public forums to whip up untruths.
"The amount of deliberate misinformation being spread about this scheme is worrying."
However, the plans for the site have drawn considerable opposition with concerns over its size, value for money, and lack of parking provision.
In efforts to reassure residents, Cllr Siddons said that occupants of the proposed building will not be issued with parking permits or scratch cards for on-street parking.
"We are working with the county council to carry out a review of on-street parking in Scarborough old town," he said.
Scarborough Council is borrowing £22m from the Public Works Loan Board to finance the scheme which has been drawn up in collaboration with Coventry University Scarborough and York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Cllr Siddons said: "The need to do something with the ugly former Argos building has been on the agenda as far back as 2003. It is not an overnight issue.
"Finding a new purpose for this site is central to our transformative plans for Scarborough."
Cllr Siddons said that there have been allegations of “done deals” and allegations that the council is “completely ignoring” feedback, and so made the decision to defer the plan.
He continued: "While there is a desire for us to get on with this project, I do recognise there is a need for further engagement so the point of the overall scheme can be explained and clarified.
"We are arranging meetings with stakeholders such as residents, business groups and students and young people so we can understand any concerns they have about these proposals.
"I urge people not to get caught up in the rhetoric and to see this as our opportunity to finally fix this unloved part of Scarborough.
"Together with the complementary proposals for a new St Helens Square and more visible Market Hall, we could transform our town centre," Cllr Siddons said. "The alternative is that the ugly Argos building will remain for years to come."