Blueprint for development of resort hailed as vital for future

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THE leader of a Yorkshire council has heralded a planning blueprint to inject millions of pounds of investment into one of Britain’s most famous seaside resorts as vital to the town’s future.

A draft development brief has been drawn up to provide vastly improved links between Scarborough town centre and its seafront to boost tourism and the retail sector.

The proposed planning strategy includes some of the key sites within Scarborough including the Grade II listed Town Hall and the beleaguered Futurist Theatre as well as the King Street car park.

Scarborough Borough Council’s leader, Tom Fox, claimed the development brief is among the most important planning documents that the authority has created in the last decade.

He maintained it will help breath new life into the “heart and soul” of Scarborough by providing a clearly defined strategy to bolster both the town centre and the seafront.

Coun Fox added: “The sites in the brief are pivotal to the future of Scarborough. We want to provide a much clearer link between the town centre and the seafront, and this document will be vital to do this.

“We have had some important planning decisions in recent years, but this is perhaps the most critical one for the town. It is about the heart and soul of Scarborough, and it will help improve tourism and the retail sector.”

The draft development brief will be considered by the council’s planning and development committee at a meeting on Thursday next week.

If it is approved, the draft document will go out for an eight-week public consultation. Once a final document has been agreed, it will be used to help determine future planning applications.

Coun Fox would not be drawn on an exact timescale as to when any development could begin, as he admitted the economic downturn could delay planned schemes.

But he stressed that he hoped there would be a “great deal of interest” from developers in drawing up detailed proposals for the town centre and seafront.

Among the sites in the brief’s remit is the Town Hall, which has been at the centre of increasing speculation over its future.

It emerged last year that Scarborough Borough Council was the latest local authority in North Yorkshire looking towards a move to a new headquarters to counter escalating maintenance costs and slash expenditure.

It is estimated the maintenance of the council’s buildings will be in the region of £5.8m over the next 25 years.

Councillors were told in January 2010 that a relocation had been put on the back-burner, but the Yorkshire Post disclosed in August last year that a move is once again a serious possibility. The empty Scarborough Building Society building in Eastfield is seen as a leading contender for the new headquarters.

The Futurist Theatre is seen as another key location for potential development, and a task force was set up to look at a way forward.

Campaigners attempting to prevent the theatre from being demolished applied for it to be classed as a listed building.

But while the venue remains operational, consultants have claimed it would be “commercial suicide” to keep the theatre, which is on a site that could be used for redevelopment.

Coun Fox was adamant that no decision had been made on the theatre’s future or a relocation of the council out of the Town Hall, and stressed that “all options will be considered”.

The draft development brief has set out a series of options for re-development, although the area’s listed buildings would be retained.

A “do minimum” option includes retaining the Futurist Theatre and council offices. But multi-million pound re-development could be given the go-ahead if planning applications meet the brief’s guidelines.