Take two for Scarborough cinema plans

A previous artist impression of the cinema before the proposed changes
A previous artist impression of the cinema before the proposed changes

New plans for North Bay’s cinema development will see a reduction in screens and restaurants with almost double the number of flats.

Benchmark Leisure, the developers behind the proposed multi-screen cinema complex, have insisted the cinema will go ahead but the size of the complex has been reduced.

Changed plans show the number of cinema screens has dropped from seven to five or six and the number of restaurants from eight to five.

While the size of the cinema complex decreases, the number of flats has more than doubled – from 33 to 75.

A spokesperson for Benchmark Leisure said: “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.

“However, we still remain committed to delivering a high quality multi-screen cinema complex that we feel the town deserves.

“These changes to the plans will ensure that, if planning is granted for the slightly smaller scheme, we can keep to the broad time scales and get the cinema opened next year.”

MRP Developments, which was hoping to build a cinema on the former Argos site in Newborough, put plans on hold in March following difficulties in securing restaurant franchises for the complex.

But Benchmark Leisure have said they will be looking at local businesses to fill the five units.

MP for Scarborough, Robert Goodwill said: “I don’t want people to come to Scarborough and not get the very best and I think local businesses can deliver better than chains.

“What we don’t want is for Scarborough cinema to look like every other cinema in the country.”

But concerns have been raised about the substantial increase in the number of flats.

Scarborough Borough Councillor Steve Siddons, leader of the Labour party, said: “I’m not surprised that it’s changed and I wouldn’t be surprised if it changed again. My view was that this was really just a block of flats with a car park attached and in the space where some of the flats were to go they were putting in some cinema screens.

“National restaurant chains are seeing a decline in business and are unlikely to be interested in such an out of town location.

“I would also be surprised if any local businesses would want to risk their hard earned money in such a risky development.”

While Mr Goodwill says the developers can’t be expected not to look at the economic benefits of building more flats and feels the increase is not a “major problem”.

He said: “There’s always a trade off between the number of films you can show and the capacity in the big screens. I think the new plans recognise the projected demand.”

The cinema was originally set to open in Autumn of this year before being pushed back to June 2019. It is now hoped that the cinema will open during next year as developers insist the cinema will go ahead. Mr Goodwill added: “It’s disappointing that it’s going to be smaller and longer in the delivery but it is happening.

“It’s all coming together and this is one of the final attractions needed to cater for tourism for both the summer and winter seasons.”

Residents have also had their say on Facebook.

Leigh Todd said: “I think it is a shame that they haven’t done more market

research.

“They claim some chain restaurants would not be a wise option due to an unstable markets. However there is always a Nandos or Frankie and Benny’s around multiplexes.

“I don’t see any of the restaurants around Vue in York struggling.”

David Thompson said: “A slight drop in the number of screens is a small price to pay to actually get the place built.”

Jackie Turner said: “[It] will end up being all flats when no investors can be found.”

While Brian Simpson added: “One screen is better than what is there at the moment. Get on with it and build it.”