Scarborough West Pier: Campaigners' unrest over regeneration plans as council dismiss claims as 'fantasy and farce'

Business leaders in Scarborough’s South Bay have raised their concerns over regeneration plans on the historic West Pier, amid fears it will affect existing traders.

By George Buksmann
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 10:35 am
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 10:37 am

Scarborough Council first revealed the redevelopment scheme as part of its masterplan blueprint in May last year, which includes new kiosks, public toilets and a restaurant.

The plans also include improvements to the working pier for existing tenants with modern and fit-for-purpose facilities and new bait sheds.

However, protesters have hit back at the proposals in an open letter, with unsubstantiated claims that the council has deliberately misled the Government, that there has been no consultation, and that funding is misplaced.

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An artist's impression of what the new West Pier could look like. The designs are not final. (Photo: Hemingway Design)

Scarborough Council has stringently dismissed the "false claims" as "nonsense".

Traders 'angry' at development plans

Proposals for a new public space which could be used for outdoor events with the removal of car parking spaces when required have caused the most concern.

Ros Aldcroft, Acting Chair of the South Bay Traders Association, told The Scarborough News that the "majority of traders are not welcoming of the development in its present format".

Scarborough Council wants to spend millions developing the West Pier into a leisure destination.

She said: "My biggest issue is the lack of parking. I constantly get customers saying they came through, and couldn't park, so they went to Whitby.

"It's early stages, and we’d really like to carry on working with the council to come to a workable agreement."

Ms Aldcroft, who runs the Bay View Coffee House, added that traders want regeneration works that will best serve those who use the pier and suggested "interesting projects that are connected to the fishing town", such as a lobster hatchery or art space.

She reiterated that any reduction to the 109 pier parking spaces would be the biggest loss. Cllr Steve Siddons, the council's leader, made assurances at a full meeting of the authority in February that "there will be no major changes to car parking provision as part of the West Pier project".

An artist's impression of what the new West Pier could look like, with improved facilities for tenants. The designs are not final. (Photo: Hemingway Design)

It was announced last month that Scarborough would receive £20.2m from the Government's Towns Deal scheme to finance six projects, including the pier.

The Scarborough Seafront Community Action Group has also called for the authority to go back to the drawing board. A spokesperson said: "The council has stirred up a hornets' nest of resentment, anger and disbelief in what they are doing.

"This will be in direct competition with the rest of the town and with the existing seafront community. It will add dramatically to the existing traffic chaos, frustration and confrontation with visitors and residents having nowhere to park."

The South Bay Traders Association held an extraordinary meeting on May 20 that is reported to have had the highest attendance in its history with more than 40 attendees.

The current parking provision on West Pier, which could be altered under new development plans.

Ms Aldcroft said: "Everyone was very angry. It has stirred up a lot of emotions because everybody is passionate about their business."

In February, a group of artists told The Scarborough News of their anger over the West Pier proposals, which would force them to vacate their studios while a new space is built.

Pier claims are 'nonsense'

Political leaders at Scarborough Council have rebuked claims that the authority has misled the Government to secure money to transform the town’s historic West Pier.

The authority said the harbour and pier area play a critical role in the town’s economy with strong links to the fishing and hospitality industries. They want a scheme that supports the industries to grow and creates a 'focal point' destination for South Bay leisure activity.

Campaigners have made a series of claims that the council deliberately misled the Government, has not consulted with businesses and that a loss of parking will affect traders – which have been dismissed as "complete nonsense".

An artist's impression of what the new West Pier could look like, with new kiosks and open space. The designs are not final. (Photo: Hemingway Design)

Scarborough Council said the Government has approved the pier project, with submissions closely scrutinised by expert civil servants. If there was any doubt to their validity, they would have been rejected.

It added that several of the Towns Deal projects sit outside the immediate town centre and the scheme is not restricted to purely high street or shopping areas.

The authority said it has carried out "extensive" public consultation as part of the plans with more than 30,000 people, organisations and businesses involved in forming key strategic documents.

Since June 2021 there have been 29 consultations with stakeholders, individual meetings with pier tenants, and project team members attended Scarborough Harbour User Group meetings to provide updates.

This included an initial stakeholders meeting which at least one representative of the South Bay Traders Association attended, the council said.

It added that project information has been made available to West Pier tenants online and via a range of channels. The authority said the project team intend to carry out future consultations to further develop the scheme.

Scarborough Council said there is no evidence to suggest that removing parking will affect traders, but accepted their concerns. It added that a county council parking review is ongoing with the opportunity to improve public transport, signage, off-street parking and increase parking elsewhere in the town.

'Campaigners clutching at straws'

Cllr Steve Siddons, the council's leader, said: "The campaigners really are clutching at straws. The claims being made are fantasy and farce in equal measure, we only want the best for Scarborough.

"A transformative plan for West Pier has been put forward yet it seems a small group of people are determined to prevent an £11m investment.

"Fortunately, the plans have the backing of the Government, many other town centre business owners and leaders who form the Town Deal board for Scarborough.

"They see the benefit to residents and visitors of a redeveloped harbour and pier.

Cllr Liz Colling, deputy leader at the council, said: "This is our last chance to do something bold and exciting with West Pier to totally transform this important part of Scarborough and create a lasting legacy.

"Our plans represent a massive investment in new ideas and facilities which will benefit harbour and pier users, South Bay traders and visitors.

"The fact campaigners against the scheme have resorted to spreading complete nonsense is a real shame.

"We cannot use the money allocated to West Pier for anything else other than what is in the agreed business case.

"The campaigners seem to want to leave the pier as it is. Next, they'll suggest we hand back the Government's Town Deal cash."