Developer insists £140m resort plan will still go ahead

THe developer behind a £140m regeneration project in Scarborough has insisted a scheme to build a multi-million pound tourist attraction will go ahead even though he expects to lose money on the deal.

Roland Duce, who bought out Benchmark Leisure last June, promised residents he would deliver a state of the art waterpark before reaping any profit from further stages of The Sands development on North Bay.

He told a packed public meeting at the Royal Hotel last night: “It has been clearly shown that the next thing Scarborough wants is a water park that can be used all year round and is spectacular enough to bring people into the town from a long distance. I aim to deliver this.”

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Backed by some of the country’s major banks, Mr Duce said in order to deliver the attraction he was willing to pour his own funds into the scheme.

And although he does not expect the water park to be profitable straight away, he believes once fully completed, the development as a whole will attract more people to the park.

However, before he can build on the rest of the site he must first complete the water park in line with a development agreement, which was drawn up by Scarborough Borough Council in March.

He said: “The agreement stipulates that the next thing I have to do is produce the water park - only then could I get involved with anything more profitable.”

It was this argument that he used to allay fears from sceptical residents, who questioned whether the project would go ahead after original plans for the water park were shelved as a result of the recession. Desperate for the long-awaited regeneration to take place, they sought assurance that the developer would provide the town with the “major modern tourist attraction” it desperately needed.

Mr Duce, who owns developments across the country, said: “Progress like this in the current environment is difficult but I take the view that if anyone can deliver it I can.”

A presentation at the meeting by architect Tony Stringer revealed the development would be built in phases.

Operated by a German company, the water park will be the first phase and will include a wave pool, a lazy river and an infinity pool overlooking the North Sea. However architect Tony Stringer insisted the big draw would be a flume know as The Tornado, which will be the biggest of its kind in the country. It is planned for completion by summer 2013.

The second and third phases will see 163 holiday homes and a family restaurant built on the former Kinderland and Mr Marvels sites. The scheme is expected to go before planners in January.