Scarborough's North Bay cinema - every twist and turn in the saga from 2014 to now

Yesterday Scarborough council's planning committee approved an application for a six-screen cinema on the former Atlantis site.

By Corinne Macdonald
Friday, 8th November 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 11:22 am

It was the third time the scheme has been given planning permission but the committee was told that the scheme was now "ready to go".

Jake Stentiford, the agent for the developer, Benchmark Leisure, said that the approval from the council was "all that was needed" before work could finally begin on the cinema.

The new cinema plans, approved yesterday.

He added that the previous schemes had fallen through due to changes in the restaurant market but that operators were now signed up and the scheme was ready to be built.

It is the latest development in the saga over a multiplex cinema on the site that has been going on for years.

Plans have been changed, opening dates have bee pushed back, here's a timeline of all the twists and turns:

June 2014

The former Atlantis site. Picture by Richard Ponter

Benchmark Leisure seeks outline permission for a seven or eight screen cinema at The Sands, to be built alongside shops, apartments and a 287-space multistorey car park.

Their application states that: “The proposed development will contribute significantly to the economy of the town, both through employment generation and by broadening the appeal of Scarborough in the tourism market by delivering a comprehensive all-weather, year-round leisure offer.”

A number of other potential sites were considered, including the Dean Road Depot and the St Thomas Street car park but the developer claims that the Atlantis site is the only viable option.

October 2014

A report by Dcinex Consulting commissioned by Benchmark and submitted to council advises the former Atlantis site is the best.

John Sullivan, from Dcinex Consulting: "We believe that the Atlantis site offers Scarborough the best opportunity to provide a multiplex cinema for both its residents and visitors and the only available opportunity to provide such a facility without significant public subsidy.”

April 2015

Council planning officers recommend the plans for approval but they are refused by councillors by seven votes to six following a heated debate.

July 2015

Identical plans for cinema in North Bay resubmitted by Benchmark Leisure after the council reaffirm they will not be putting North Street car park out for tender.

Businessman Nik Shaw had been trying to build a multiplex on North Street for years.

A Benchmark spokesman said: "In planning terms, the sole reason for refusal resulted from doubts over North Street which have now been fully addressed.

“We strongly believe that the majority of Scarborough residents and visitors are crying out for a new cinema and would like us to get on with it.”

October 2015

Council approve the resubmitted plans by 12 votes to four with one abstention.

The outline plans must still be signed off by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the design of the building must be agreed before work can begin.

Feb 2016

Scarborough's Military Adventure Park closes after operating on the Atlantis site since 2010 to make way for construction.

May 2016

Planning application for design and scale of cinema submitted.

October 2016

Scarborough Council’s planning and development committee signs off the final plans.

November 2016

Benchmark state they have agreed a deal with The Light to run the cinema and say work will begin in the new year with an opening in summer 2018.

September 2017

An agreement with The Light to operate the multiplex is signed.

December 2017

Opening is delayed until 2019 due to change in plans requested by some of the restaurant chains lined up to be part of the development which requires 'minor amendment to planning permission'.

March 2018

Benchmark reaffirm their commitment to the cinema stating they will be submitting a new planning application and hope to start work in May.

June 2018

New plans show number of screens has dropped from seven to five or six and number of flats has doubled from 33 to 75.

A spokesperson for Benchmark Leisure says: "Due to the very challenging situation in the high street restaurant market it has become necessary for us to look again at the cinema plans to ensure they remain deliverable and sustainable.

"It has become clear with some recent very high profile failings in the high street restaurant market that this sector is undergoing major change and, for our scheme, it will not be able to subsidise the cinema element, as we had always planned."

September 2018

Opening date is shifted again to 2020, which Benchmark blame on difficulties in securing restaurants to be part of the scheme.

August 2019

Council's planning committee delays decision to allow Benchmark a chance to address flooding concerns from Lead Local Flood Authority and Yorkshire Water.

The newly revised scheme is for a six-screen cinema with 53 apartments, a gym, sky bar, five restaurants and five retail units, 71 car parking spaces, with 12 reserved for staff of the businesses.

November 2019

The planning committee approve the application for the six-screen attraction on the site of the former Atlantis water park, although Scarborough Council leader Steve Siddons remains unconvinced Benchmark will deliver the project, saying “Just because the latest plans have been approved does not mean this cinema will be built soon, if at all.

“This is the third time the developer has promised progress."