Wrenbridge and Buccleuch Property’s plan to demolish and replace the Argos building on Newborough with 200 flats for students and NHS workers have become subject to concerns over the “extreme demands” it will place on already limited parking spaces in Scarborough Old Town, the size of the accommodation, and whether it is value for money.
Scarborough Council is borrowing £22million from the Public Works Loan Board to finance the scheme, which features ground floor retail units and accommodation for 50 doctors and nurses from Scarborough Hospital and 150 university students on the upper floors.
Scarborough Civic Society has objected to the scheme and a former head of planning at the council called it an example of 'tenement living' with 'slum conditions' that would never have been in contention for approval in years past.
Coun Steve Siddons has denied rumours that residents of the new flats would be given permits for on-street parking and said the proposals had been dogged by the 'spread of misinformation'.
In a blunt statement, he also confirmed that a decision on the planning application has been deferred to December and reminded residents that the alternative would be for an 'ugly' building to remain disused.
"There has been a lot of coverage and much discussion in the last week or so about the revised proposals to redevelop the Argos building in Scarborough town centre.
"There have been allegations of ‘done deals’, and suggestions that we are completely ignoring feedback.
"While construction costs nationally have clearly risen over the last year, dubious maths about rising costs have been used to fuel claims about the financial viability of the project and people with an axe to grind have used public forums to whip up untruths.
"The amount of deliberate misinformation being spread about this scheme is worrying. I would specifically like to address the issue of car parking which appears to be causing some concern.
"Residents of the building will not be issued with parking permits or scratch cards for on-street parking.
"Separately, we are working with the county council to carry out a review of on-street parking in Scarborough Old Town.
"The need to do something with the ugly former Argos building has been on the agenda as far back as 2003. It is not an overnight issue. Finding a new purpose for this site is central to our transformative plans for Scarborough.
"However, given the fact rumours and inaccurate information are circulating, I think there is a need to pause and take stock and I have therefore asked for the planning application to be deferred to December.
"While there is a desire for us to get on with this project, I do recognise there is a need for further engagement so the point of the overall scheme can be explained and clarified.
"We are arranging meetings with stakeholders such as residents, business groups and students and young people so we can understand any concerns they have about these proposals.
"I urge people not to get caught up in the rhetoric and to see this as our opportunity to finally fix this unloved part of Scarborough.
"Together with the complementary proposals for a new St Helen's Square and more visible Market Hall, we could transform our town centre.
"The alternative is that the ugly Argos building will remain for years to come."