Alan Ayckbourn joins objectors to £22m flats and retail scheme for Scarborough

Scarborough's celebrated playwright, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, has become the latest to object to plans for a £22m Old Town development, claiming it could “rapidly degenerate into a slum”.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn Picture: Richard Ponter

Wrenbridge and Buccleuch Property’s plans to replace the Argos building on Newborough with 200 flats for students and NHS workers and groundfloor retail have run into controversy over there being no car parking or facilities for motorbikes or disabled vehicles, its size, and whether it is value for money.

So far there have been six supportive comments submitted to Scarborough Council over the plans, with 171 against, including from a group of former council planners and Scarborough Hospitality Association.

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A letter from Sir Alan and Lady Ayckbourn asked what had happened to the council plan of 2003 called “Kissing Sleeping Beauty” which proposed a large town square on the Argos site.

An artist's impression of the new building with retail on the ground floor and accommodation for 50 doctors and nurses from Scarborough Hospital and 150 university students on the upper floors

They said while the Old Town had its problems, it was a “lovely part of Scarborough” with the “potential to be even lovelier”.

Their letter adds: “However, it won’t be if a major part of it is given over to a building with cramped facilities for 200 people which will rapidly degenerate into a slum.

"If this goes ahead, as sure as eggs are eggs, the Old Town will become deprived.”

However Daniel Wilson, of Wilson Retail, which will run a One Stop shop in the new scheme, thinks it will “revitalise” the area, and believes the proposal to turn the whole site into a public square is not practical.

Scarborough Group, which recently acquired the Brunswick Shopping Centre, is also supportive of the plans to replace an “eyesore” building.

The council is borrowing £22m from the Public Works Loan Board to finance the scheme which has been drawn up in collaboration with Coventry University Scarborough and York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Last week the Conservative group called on the council to "fully engage" with local communities to explain the project and the implications for future funding.

They are concerned the project isn't viable and will impose a burden on future generations.

The council's Labour leader Steve Siddons has urged people "not to get caught up in the rhetoric and to see this as our opportunity to finally fix this unloved part of Scarborough."