Resort to be given ‘coast to boast’

EVER since the bucket and spade holiday was invented, generations of visitors had made their way to the beach through the historic Peasholm Gap gateway to Scarborough’s seafront.

Peasholm Park in Scarborough

The area between the North Bay Cliffs and the those which roll back towards the Castle Headland trace their history to the very beginnings of the resort.

It has suffered heavy decline in recent years but now a surprise redevelopment is on the cards from an unlikely source.

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A £50m infrastructure scheme proposed by Yorkshire Water to upgrade all the sewers in the area means that the company has to tear the road network apart to put in the new drainage system.

The result means it can put it back whichever way Scarborough Council wants and, as such, Yorkshire Water consultants have drawn up bold plans to demolish the busy roundabout below The Sands, currently used as a terminus by the seafront bus service, and instead pedestrianise much of the area.

This would involve narrowing the access to the seafront to create a “blank canvas” which could be used for displays of public art and other uses.

The smartening up of the area would also transform the setting of the multi-million pound Sands scheme of futuristic flats and a regenerated Open Air Theatre.

There would be the new public space on one side, and – on the other side – a green area leading up the cliffs to the footpath into town, which could also be improved to boost public awareness of the route.

The plans were unveiled to the public this week at a meeting this week at Scarborough Bowls Centre, attended by more than 80 people. If realised the plans could see a return to the glory days of the area, when the boundaries of Scarborough were drawn in the 1800s and when the North Sea was still the German Sea.

Peasholm Gap was the most northerly point of the town and later became the hub of the North Bay and Marine Drive tourist traffic, and the crossroads between the beach and Peasholm Park.

But during the 1990s the area suffered a savage decline. First its historic cliff lift broke down and was given away to Cornwall – sparking uproar.

Regeneration hopes were pinned on a USA-backed multi-million pound golfing fun park called Golfdom, but this faltered in the mid-1990s when the developers’ business interests were hit hard. More recent years have seen the water park Atlantis filled in to make way for Legoland, a casino, and multi-screen cinema – all of which failed to happen.

Yorkshire Water’s Community Engagement Officer, Claire Glavina, admitted the reaction to the latest attempt to improve the area’s fortunes had been mixed.

She said: “There was a lot of concern about getting rid of the roundabout as a fundamental change to the area. Some people did not like the idea. But no final decisions have been made. It is a discussion we are going to have with Scarborough Council.

“The council want to improve the area so we have consultants draw up designs for consultation. The plans were unveiled to the public this week to create a pedestrianised area which will be a blank canvas. The council can put whatever it wants there whether it be public art or benches and there will still be bus stops and access to the beach for maintenance vehicles.”

The £50m “Coast to Boast” scheme needs to be complete by April 2014 to meet tough new European standards on bathing water quality. But the work at Peasholm Gap is due to be complete by this October. Millions of pounds will also be used for below-ground improvements including a massive storm overflow chamber, capable of handling 6,000 litres per second of storm water to counter the risk of untreated water overflowing from sewers and contaminating the sea.