Company in £140m Sands project bought out

THE company behind Scarborough's £140m faltering Sands Project to transform the North Bay has been bought out by a property developer, it was announced yesterday.

Scarborough Council bosses said the move would ensure the continuing delivery of The Sands – which paid for the recent 3.5m refurbishment of the Open Air Theatre.

But as reported by the Yorkshire Post, The Sands was hit by the credit crunch. The site of the former Atlantis Water Park is standing empty after Legoland pulled out the scheme. So far, the main goal of the multi-million pound water park has come to nothing.

Now property developer Roland Duce has bought out Benchmark Leisure, which for years has been Scarborough Council's private sector partner in the scheme.

Scarborough Council yesterday welcomed the deal "as extremely positive", saying it "will add significant momentum to the delivery of The Sands, which has already had an extremely positive impact on the area."

Plans are already in place for Mr Duce, who has been supporting Benchmark over the past two years, to take forward the development of the waterpark as a priority part of the scheme.

As well as being an experienced property developer, he is a substantial shareholder and Chief Executive Officer of Abbey Commercial Investments Limited, a long established property, investment and development company.

Council chief executive Jim Dillon said: "This is fantastic news for both The Sands development and the wider borough. Scarborough's North Bay.

"The whole area has already benefited hugely from the developments to date and we welcome this move as a major positive step and look forward to working with Roland, who we know well, and believe that he has the experience and capacity to drive through the other phases of the scheme."

Mr Duce added: "Benchmark has already achieved so much, including the superb sea front apartments and commercial lets, new and improved beach chalets, North Bay Railway facilities and the newly refurbished Open Air Theatre, so I am delighted to be able to continue this momentum.

"I am committed to working closely with the council and using my experience to deliver the other exciting parts of the scheme, including the waterpark, as one of our first priorities."