Sea life observation station with Turner Prize-winning artwork planned for Scarborough

A new sea life observation station with free telescopes and artworks could be created in Scarborough.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has submitted plans for a new nature tourism attraction on Marine Drive to attract visitors and raise awareness of the area’s coastal wildlife. If approved, a “semi-derelict shelter” at the southern end of Marine Drive would be repurposed and repaired.

It would include information panels, free sea-watching telescopes, artwork, and three free-to-use and accessible telescopes to aid wildlife viewing and identification.

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The information panels would include links to video and audio content and “world-renowned” Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller would be commissioned to create part of the artwork.

Sea-watching station, proposed mosaic visualisation. Courtesy Yorkshire Wildlife Trust/planning documentsSea-watching station, proposed mosaic visualisation. Courtesy Yorkshire Wildlife Trust/planning documents
Sea-watching station, proposed mosaic visualisation. Courtesy Yorkshire Wildlife Trust/planning documents

It forms part of Wild Eye partnership between the council and other regional organisations which received £1.4m from the Towns Fund.

North Yorkshire Council has said the shelter, constructed in the 1990s in a Victorian style, is in a bad state of dilapidation and disrepair. However, the new viewing station would be capable of enduring high footfall and the exposed coastal environment.

The decorative mosaic floor installation would showcase the wildlife in the seas off the Scarborough coast and reference the town’s Roman past, which includes the nearby remains of a Roman signal station on the Castle headland.

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It will look “authentically Roman in appearance and carry the beauty and richness in its style of the mosaics of Pompeii,” according to submitted plans.

Mr Deller, who will work with professional mosaic artist, Coralie Turpin, to create the installation, said: “Here in Scarborough we propose a new ancient work to be created, about the sea and the creatures within it which also hints at the possibility of the past being still present, just beneath our feet and perhaps inclines us to think about what traces we will leave behind on the world.”

The project also aims to strengthen local communities’ understanding of the effects of climate change and nature conservation.

As well as assisting with regeneration, it will raise awareness of the different species of cetacean and other marine wildlife that can be seen in the area including porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and minke whale.

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Stuart Baines, who runs the popular local Scarborough Porpoise Facebook page, said: “I Strongly support the proposed Sea Watching Hub and artwork at Scarborough’s Marine Drive.

“It is amongst the best locations in England to observe fantastic marine wildlife.”

John Oxley, an independent archaeologist and co-director of Big Ideas by the Sea Festival, added: “It is so valuable to explore the environment and what it means to you through the creative arts, something Wild Eye and Big Ideas by the Sea have in common”.

The viewing station will have a 30-year minimum lifespan and once completed, will pass into the ownership of North Yorkshire Council.

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