Flamingo Land boss speaks out over Futurist plans

Flamingo Land has revealed its latest plans for the Futurist site in Scarborough's South Bay.

Thursday, 5th January 2017, 8:34 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:40 am
Flamingo Land's plans

The company will find out on Monday whether the plans could become a reality, when councillors vote on the demolition of the historic theatre.

Flamingo Land boss Gordon Gibb said the demolition is “not a foregone conclusion”.

The Conservatives are the biggest party in the 50-member council but are equally matched by the combined number of independents and councillors of other parties.

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The Futurist's fate will be decided on Monday

He said: “If the decision is taken which allows us to develop a new attraction, I hope people can agree to disagree and get behind something positive for the town.

“We have always wanted to do something in Scarborough and this site will give us the best chance of success.”

The plans represent a £20 million investment and the firm is keen to retain elements of the site’s history.

Mr Gibb explained: “Live actors will explain the story of Scarborough and specifically the history of the Futurist and its forerunner which opened back in 1903 called Arcadia, built by Kiralfy when a wooden rollercoaster was the star of the show.”

The Futurist's fate will be decided on Monday

The ground floor will feature an indoor play area for younger children and on the first floor there will be a 4D interactive dark ride, which will take guests on a simulated journey around the coastline where the emphasis will be on education as well as entertainment.

There will also be a junior mini-coaster and an education centre, with conservation programmes from pre-school to degree level.

The restaurant, looking out onto South Bay, will offer locally-sourced produce and a Scarborough-brewed ale.

A roof garden will feature family activities such as rope courses and crazy golf. It will open in the evening to enjoy it year-round. The outside space will also be home to a walk-through aviary set among landscaped gardens.

The pace then changes dramatically, with the chance for visitors to experience white-knuckle rides including a 55 metre high Shot Tower, with 360 degree views of the seafront and town, a rollercoaster and a zipwire.

Mr Gibb said: “For a privately-owned business this is a substantial investment. It’s a reflection of the company’s appetite to come up with a game-changer for the resort. I hope people will support it.”

Peter Wilkinson, creator of the Scarborough University Technical College to encourage more young people to consider design and engineering for careers, said: “An attraction of the scale being proposed, and investment from a proven theme park operator, is gift-wrapped and it is vital.

“It will ensure Scarborough has a solid future as a visitor destination.

“People have understandable views about the Futurist’s halcyon days, so do I, but we have to think about Scarborough’s future. That is the message that has to come across.”

John W Senior MBE, Chairman of South Bay Traders Association said: "While the SBTA membership were very sad to see the closure of the Futurist as a theatre, we now believe it is the right time to move on and do something positive with this critical and high profile site.

"Mr Gibb’s plans certainly appear imaginative, forward looking and with a seemingly welcome nod to the past. So subject to assurances of a safe demolition and sight of the detailed plans, the SBTA is generally supportive of the development as described and we look forward to exciting times to come and perhaps the dawn of a new era for Scarborough, not just as Britain’s first resort, but also as a truly desirable place to live work and play.”

Council leader Cllr Derek Bastiman added: “Flamingo Land’s plans sound fantastic and are very much aligned with our ambitions for continuing to attract high quality private sector investment that has a positive knock on effect on existing businesses.

“During the many years of debate and decision making about what could be developed on the Futurist site, there has been the wish and demand for a themed attraction to appeal to all the family. The Flamingo Land development fits this bill perfectly and would complement the existing attractions in South Bay and the recent investment in North Bay, including the waterpark and the soon to be developed multiscreen cinema.”

* Meanwhile, widespread opposition to the borough council’s impending vote on the demolition of the Futurist is growing.

The Save the Futurist campaigners are holding an open public meeting at 7pm this evening at the YMCA in St Thomas Street.

Members of the public can also attend the full council meeting at the Town Hall on Monday January 9 at 2pm.

A petition has been launched calling for a vote of no confidence in Scarborough Council’s governance, which people are linking with the handling of the Futurist situation.