n More than a century of civic history will come to an end should Scarborough Council make a move away from the Town Hall building.
THE relocation of Scarborough’s Town Hall could leave a “black hole” in the town centre, it has been claimed.
Serious consideration is being given to selling off the historic building, which has been home to the local authority since 1899, and moving the council’s base to an out-of-town location.
Last month, the local authority paid £5,000 to design, planing and engineering firm Ove Arup & Partners Ltd, for “Town Hall relocation” services.
A council spokesman said: “A report will be going to the council’s cabinet in September to outline options for future accommodation provision.”
While no final decision has been made, it is understood the former Scarborough Building Society headquarters, near Morrisons, has been earmarked as a potential new home for Scarborough Council.
The move would free up the Town Hall for redevelopment by a private company, possibly alongside the Futurist and King Street sites.
However, Cllr Colin Challen, deputy leader of the Labour Party group on Scarborough Council, has called for a full public consultation over the move, which he warned could leave a “Bradford-style hole” in Scarborough’s town centre if the redevelopment went wrong.
In Bradford, a major development in the town centre floundered due to financial pressures, leaving an huge derelict site in the town, and Cllr Challen said: “This is a momentous decision for the future of Scarborough town centre, and we want the widest and earliest public consultation possible.”
Currently, the Town Hall building has high maintenance and energy costs which has led to some within the council favouring a move to a more modern building.
Cllr Challen said he believes the move may be worthy of consideration if an overwhelming case can be made, but said he had concerns over implications for local democracy and businesses in the town centre.
Speaking to the Evening News last year, council leader Cllr Tom Fox admitted a move was being considered. He said: “Ultimately we could be looking at moving, which would mean disposing of the building, in part or totally.”
The Town Hall was built by John Woodall around 1844 as a private house, designed in the Jacobean style. The borough bought the building for £33,575. The purchase price also included three other properties in St Nicholas Street, the St Nicholas undercliff, the Exhibition Hall on Foreshore (now the Olympia), the coastguard station and a building in King Street.
The St Nicholas Street site was officially opened by Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice, who unveiled the nearby statue of her mother on the same day.