Regeneration back on track as hotel and park scheme revived

THE £140m Sands Project to regenerate Scarborough is getting back on track under new management after faltering during the recession, it has been revealed.

A new hotel and water park are back on the cards for the development, which has also won a top award for the self-catering flats already built as part of the scheme.

The saga over the resort's North Bay has now been dragging on for 12 years after the previous Zenith Project, involving creating a futuristic domed entertainment complex, failed to get off the drawing board.

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The more modest Sands Project fared better – creating a number of new facilities, including a Beach Management Centre – before the collapse of the housing market hit sales of the seafront apartments needed to pay for the rest of the scheme.

However, Scarborough Council leader Tom Fox has now revealed that things are looking up funded by 3.5m profits as many of the unsold flats finally found buyers.

It was also announced last month that property developer Roland Duce has bought out Benchmark Leisure, which for years has been Scarborough Council's private-sector partner in the scheme.

While the site of the former Atlantis Water Park was being kept warm by a temporary children's attraction, Coun Fox revealed there had been renewed interest in building a hotel on the land.

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He added: "Benchmark, through its new owners, are still in negotiations with a four star hotel client. Draft terms have been received from an operator and plans are being worked on."

As reported by the Yorkshire Post, one of the criticisms of the Sands Project has been that it has still failed to deliver its main goal – a multi-million pound water park that will be the envy of every resort in Britain.

But Coun Fox said there had been progress on that front as well.

"There remains serious interest from a commercial operator who has visited the site more than once. Discussions are under way on design and finance," he added.

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Of the apartments, 100 had changed hands. Sales were complete on 99 of the properties while the milestone 100th was with solicitors.

Four out of eight of the commercial units were still left but inquiries from potential occupants suggested much of that space was about to be snapped up.

The council's offer to beach chalet customers of actually owning one of the huts outright rather than just renting it for a holiday had also led to sales.

But the fact that Benchmark had built more beach chalets than the ageing ones that had been knocked down meant there was a surplus, so there would be no actual reduction in the number available to let, he added.

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Meanwhile, the holiday homes in the development, Sands Sea Front Apartments, have won the Gold Award from VisitBritain, on top of the five star rating already achieved by the provider for its guest accommodation.

Winners of the Self Catering Accommodation Award at the 2009 Yorkshire Moors & Coast Tourism Awards, the Sands Sea Front Apartments now have 51 self-catering apartments to rent, including one-bed, two-bed and three-bed apartments with views of the Castle Headland and North Bay Beach.

Sands director Rachel Dean said: "We weren't content with getting five stars in our first year. So we decided to go for the ultimate rating possible in our second year aiming for the Gold Award.

"We all work so hard to make everything perfect for our guests. So we were thrilled to get this level of recognition.

"We are ecstatic to now officially be the best rated accommodation provider in Scarborough."