Council says plans to bring football back to town ‘on track’

Plans to build a new leisure village and pave the way for senior football to return to Scarborough, remain on track council bosses pledged last night.

It has been a long-awaited dream to create a community stadium and leisure facilities in the seaside town but work is yet to begin and questions have been raised about whether the project has stalled.

But last night Scarborough Borough Council said it remained committed to the project which includes a new football ground for Scarborough Athletic FC, which has been forced to play its home games at Bridlington, because of a lack of facilities.

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The need to boost sports provision became acute when Scarborough FC’s 128-year history ended in June 2007 because of crippling debts.

The council wants to develop a multi-purpose complex for the borough on the former Weaponness coach and car park, which would include a 2,000-capacity football ground with scope for expansion, an outdoor multi–use games area and a sports’ centre comprising indoor hall, fitness suite, activity studio and squash courts.

However, the authority said plans for an eight-lane swimming pool on the Weaponness site, are at an advanced stage, but will now be pursued through a separate project, which will be developed alongside the leisure village plans.

Coun Tom Fox, council leader said: “We are looking to deliver sporting facilities fit for the 21st century, as well as re-establish a new base for all levels of football in the borough, but it’s not a simple and straightforward tender process that can be rushed.

“Cabinet met last month and is happy with the progress that has been made so far, and, contrary to some reports in the media and on social media, it’s still our intention to have the facilities that would allow senior football to return to the town for the 2014/15 season, along with sporting facilities for the whole borough.

“That has been the publicly-stated aim from the very start of this project.

“We are taking forward plans for the new eight-lane pool concurrently with the tender for the leisure village and residents can be assured that a lot of that work has already been done,” Coun Fox added last night.

Three bidders had put forward detailed bids to develop the sports village and the full range of facilities desired by the council, including the swimming pool. However, the Yorkshire Post understands council officers went back to the drawing board because of cost concerns.

Officers have since asked the three developers to come back with bids, that do not include a swimming pool and they have come back with options which the authority says are “considered acceptable in principle.”

The project is now at a stage where final tenders for the football ground and sports centre facilities will be invited from the three bidders after members of the council’s cabinet agreed the move.

Once the tendering process has been concluded, the council’s development partner will build the new leisure village in exchange for a package of land which will include the site of the former McCain Stadium in Seamer Road, Filey Road Sports and Tennis Centre, and remaining land on the Weaponness site – but will no longer include the site of the current swimming pool at Ryndle Crescent which will be part of the separate pool bidding process.

The former McCain Stadium in Seamer Road, was once the home of the now defunct Scarborough FC.

Last night the council said it is also pursuing a number of grant applications with a variety of sports organisations to help fund the new leisure village, including Sport England and the Football Foundation, and the England Squash and Racketball Association.