Scarborough's Boyes department store pledges support for controversial ex-Argos redevelopment plans
Scarborough's Boyes department store has revealed it supports plans for a controversial town-centre redevelopment scheme opposite its premises.
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.
Richard Boyes, Managing Director of W. Boyes & Co Ltd, has written to the council in support of plans, where Boyes has a neighbouring store on Queen Street.
He said: "This area is in massive need of regeneration, both socially and commercially. The current demand for this site, from two gilt-edged tenants, gives me huge hope that it will help bring about these changes that will benefit the town, the hospital, the need for skilled workers and the essential uplift to the people and the area itself.
"It is rare that I choose to contact planning departments, but I have a genuine interest in the town and wish for it to succeed. If this planning request is rejected, based on the visibility we have to so many other towns and cities that we occupy, I can see nothing more than a greatly dilapidated building remaining in 10 years time."
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.
Jonathan Allison, a former head of planning and development at the council until 1995, said the latest set of proposals were a "gross overdevelopment" and "wouldn’t have had a cat in hell’s chance" of getting through in his day.
In addition, more than 100 residents attended a public meeting at Scarborough Library on Tuesday October 19 to voice their concerns, with many opposing the plans and advocating for an alternative use of the space.
Addressing those concerns, Mr Boyes said: "The only alternative I have seen to this development is simply to knock it down and create a large, market square. The images for this look good and in fact, our building gets pride of place within this option and would probably benefit the most if it was developed this way. The reality of this approach is that it would cost millions of pounds to do it with absolutely no means of financing it.
"This makes it very difficult to see how objections to the housing scheme on the basis of financial risk can in any way vote for the flattening option as an alternative. Maintaining an area that is likely to be over 75m wide is going to add large revenue costs to the council budgets and with the outlook of cost-cutting looming, I would fear this would hinder other budgets that might be allocated to essential services within the town.
"The fact that planning are likely to want to retain the terraces at the lower end of the site this would make the square look very different from the illustration given as an alternative. The other major objection to this site is related to car parking and I do have sympathy for this."
A spokesperson for Wrenbridge and Buccleuch Property said: "These plans represent a major investment and regeneration opportunity in Scarborough town centre and we are very pleased that a business with such a strong tradition in Scarborough is supporting our vision."