£22m plan for student flats and a town square in middle of Scarborough is delayed: Here's why

Scarborough Council’s £22 million plan to create 200 flats for students and NHS staff in the centre of the town will be delayed for a year, it has been revealed.

By Carl Gavaghan , Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 28th May 2020, 7:00 am

Last year, the borough council revealed it was to partner with developer Wrenbridge to demolish the former Argos building in Newborough and replace it with a scheme drawn up in collaboration with Coventry University Scarborough and the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs services at Scarborough Hospital.

The plans were approved by the authority’s cabinet in July despite some concerns from councillors about the authority borrowing £22 million to make a net return of approximately £1 million.

It had been hoped that the scheme would be completed by September 2022 but that date has now been pushed back.

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The building that housed Argos and other stores

The council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be brought up to date on the scheme at a meeting on Wednesday next week (June 3).

In a report prepared for the committee, council director Richard Bradley said the project continued to move forwards.

He wrote: “Since the council report in July 2019 the developer has purchased the former Argos building on an unconditional basis and appointed a professional team to progress the design of the scheme, obtained pre-planning advice from the Local Planning Authority and Historic England; and carried out contract negotiations on the scheme build costs.

“The developer has also held discussions with Coventry University and FutureLets on the agreement for lease, which includes the proposed longstop dates for delivering the completed development.

“Due to the scale, complexity and importance of the scheme project development discussions with the university have however taken longer than originally anticipated.

“As a result and due to the requirement for student accommodation to meet the autumn term commencement window the completion date for this development has now been deferred to September 2023.”

The council has also appointed KPMG to carry out a commercial review of the transaction following the coronavirus pandemic and its potential impact on Coventry University as an organisation.

Mr Bradley said the review is designed to give the council assurances that the scheme remains viable from the university’s point of view.

He added: “Coventry University has confirmed that it is happy to work collaboratively with KPMG and the council in this exercise and has reaffirmed to the council that it remains fully committed to the student accommodation scheme.”

As part of the plans, the council was also investigating the possibility of creating a “market square” by demolishing buildings at St Helen’s Square, which is adjacent to the Argos site.

The cost of the work has now been estimated at £3.544 million, which the council hopes to raise via external funding and third parties.

Both the student accommodation scheme and the town square proposals also form part of Scarborough’s Town Deal Fund investment plan, which if successful, could secure the council £25 million of further investment from central government.

Mr Bradley adds that the scheme has also been supported in principle by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as part of the council’s draft bid for £10 million from the Future High Street Fund, which he says is “essentially turning this £22 million investment into a £33m million regeneration programme”.

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