Flamingo Land: Scarborough Council leader hits back in claims dispute as theme park operator withdraws Futurist interest

Any project to replace Scarborough's Futurist Theatre must be "appropriate and add value to the town" the leader of the council has said, after Flamingo Land withdrew interest in plans for a seafront attraction.

By George Buksmann
Friday, 28th January 2022, 11:40 am
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 3:13 pm
An artist's impression of what a Flamingo Land site on the coast could have looked like.

Flamingo Land Chief Executive Gordon Gibb revealed yesterday that the theme park operator has scrapped plans for a 'Flamingo Land Coast' after Scarborough Council' s leader Cllr Steve Siddons claimed work was "continuing" earlier this week.

Cllr Siddons said Flamingo Land's decision to withdraw their interest in the site "opens up opportunities with alternative investors".

At a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, Cllr Siddons claimed Scarborough Council "continues to work with Flamingo Land"; the first substantial update on the site for more than a year.

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A large observation wheel now sits on the site of the former Futurist Theatre, returning for the summer seasons until 2023.

However, Mr Gibb disputed this in a statement and said claims that work is continuing with Flamingo Land "could not be further from the truth".

The Ryedale-based theme park operator first revealed plans in January 2017 for ‘Flamingo Land Coast’ which included a four-storey building on Foreshore Road for attractions, restaurants, education facilities and children’s play areas.

An adjacent building would contain a winter garden and viewing area, and a 60-metre "cliffhanger tower" ride would be accessed from the roof.

This week Cllr Siddons reiterated that Flamingo Land was the preferred bidder for the site.

An artist's impression of 'Flamingo Land Coast'; the operator has now withdrawn its interest.

In a "damning" statement Mr Gibb heavily criticised the authority's leader and said Cllr Siddons was "not engaged and seemed dismissive" of the plans, and that they have not discussed the former Futurist Theatre site since shortly after his election as leader in 2019.

Councillors heard on Tuesday that there has been interest in the top of the Futurist site and that discussions are ongoing; referring to an area of raised, sloped land behind the former theatre.

In a statement, Cllr Siddons said: "While we have been in discussions with Flamingo Land as our preferred bidder for some time, there has never been a formal legal agreement between us for the site.

"Flamingo Land is therefore at liberty to withdraw its interest in developing the site at any time.

Scarborough's Futurist Theatre, which opened in 1921, was demolished in 2018.

"Flamingo Land's decision opens up opportunities with alternative investors and we will continue to work up acceptable proposals.

"It is important to ensure whatever is eventually built on the site is appropriate for the location and adds value to the town."

Mr Gibb added: "I have spoken directly to the council and told them that we will not work with Scarborough Council on our development plans with the council as it is currently structured.

"We do not believe they have the understanding, knowledge, energy or imagination to make this project happen.

"Reluctantly the company has withdrawn its interest in Scarborough as a direct consequence which is, on a personal level. devastating.

"I was brought up in Scarborough and looked forward to bringing a world-class attraction to the town creating jobs, careers and prosperity for the area which would have undoubtedly followed."

The council approved plans for a "temporary" attraction on the site in July 2019, which took the form of a seafront observation wheel. In July 2020 permission was granted to extend the wheel’s stay by the sea for the next three summers, with its current agreement set to expire by summer 2023.

The wheel is due to return to Scarborough on April 1, adjacent to Captain Jack’s Adventure Golf, an 18-hole family golf course also on the site.

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