Scarborough’s exiled football club could return to the seaside town after the long-awaited dream of creating a multi-million pound sports village reached an important milestone yesterday.
It has been a longtime ambition to create a community stadium and leisure facilities in the town and yesterday it was announced that council bosses in Scarborough had signed an agreement which paves the way for senior football to return.
The project will see the construction of a community football ground, an eight-lane Olympic legacy swimming pool and floodlit multi-purpose sports area on the former Weaponness coach and car park. Scarborough Athletic is currently forced to plays home games in Bridlington because of a lack of suitable facilities.
The town has been without a football ground since the McCain Stadium was demolished in 2011.
Dave Holland, Scarborough Athletic Football Club chairman, said: “We have worked closely with the council ever since the leisure village development was originally mooted, and so we are aware of the many stages such a complex project must pass.
“This announcement represents a huge step closer to a return to the borough for Scarborough Athletic FC, and gives us a confidence boost to progress our own plans and aspirations.
“Weaponness will become both the hub and pinnacle of local football activity, and allow us to develop our community credentials even further; this is exciting and welcome news indeed,” Mr Holland added.
At a meeting held in private last November, Scarborough councillors approved the proposals paving the way for council leader Tom Fox to enter into agreements with developer Wrenbridge Land Ltd to allow the project to progress.
Yesterday it was announced that the agreements have been signed after a three-month delay.
Coun Fox said yesterday: “My decision today represents another big step forward for the leisure village and we look forward to working closely with Wrenbridge to progress the development of high quality, fit for purpose and sustainable sport and leisure facilities for our borough.
“A lot of work has gone into finalising the complex technical, legal and financial aspects of the development agreements and all points that were outstanding at full council last November have now been agreed to our satisfaction.”
He added: “While the time this has taken has caused some frustration for residents, who are keen to see progress, it is important for people to understand that getting the detail of the development agreements right is critical to success; without them, other stages of the project such as detailed design and planning cannot move forward.”
Peter Jarman, managing director at Wrenbridge Land Ltd added: “Wrenbridge is extremely pleased that the council has now been able to confirm its decision to enter into the development agreements for this exciting project.
“We can now concentrate our efforts on bringing this major regeneration development to reality and provide significant sport and leisure benefits for Scarborough residents.”
It is being funded by a combination of the sales of land at the former McCain stadium and at the Scarborough Sports Centre as well as spare land at the Weaponness site.
Further grant funding is expected to come from Sport England, the Football Foundation and the England Squash and Racketball Association, together with borrowing worth £6.3m which will be offset by the reduced costs of running the new site.
The authority is also looking at whether keeping leisure facilities under council management offers the best value for money.