SCARBOROUGH Council’s cabinet is set to approve the final draft of the North Bay master plan which the council claims could bring “over £100m of investment” to the area.

The master plan sets out aims for enhancing and improving the “prosperity and future of the town” by creating more attractions, visitors, and investments in what it describes as “the single largest leisure development opportunity in the borough”. 

The creation of this “emerging vision” for the  North Bay area follows the council’s approval of a £450,00 budget for the regeneration scheme last year.

Appointed by the council to create the master plan, the BPD (Building Design Partnerships) consultancy is “a major international practice of architects, designers, engineers and urbanists”.

“Three key opportunities for development” have been identified in the North Bay according to a report that will be discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting on Friday 1 July.

These encompass the enhancement of the Open Air Theatre, creating new visitor attractions with “adrenalin experiences and adventure sports”, as well as providing new visitor accommodation including “four-star plus” hotels and “serviced apartments and lodges”.

The plans also include “but are not limited to” attracting 70,000 additional overnight stays and 200,000 additional day trips every year.

Major consultation

Between March and April, the council conducted a wide-scale public consultation of residents, businesses and other interested parties, resulting in responses from a total of 732 people.

It also held “engagement sessions” with the Scarborough Chamber of Trade and the Hospitality Association, local MP’s Kevin Hollingrake and Sir Robert Goodwill, and Eastern European groups.

According to a council report, over half of the respondents stated that they visit North Bay “very frequently” although the quality of public transport links and car parking received the most votes for being “acceptable” and “poor”.

The draft proposals also made recommendations “for the development of better travel infrastructure to support the area such as possible multi-storey car parking and improvements to cycle and pedestrian access”.

However, respondents “emphasised the need to retain and enhance the quieter character of North Bay in contrast to the more commercial South Bay” with respondents overwhelmingly in favour of improving the pedestrian environment, giving cars “the least priority” when asked about transport infrastructure.

Interest in destination hotels

The master plan sets out an ambitious target of attracting hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to Scarborough every year, which also includes proposals for more hotels and lodgings.

The council’s report states that since the North Bay master-planning activity began “there has been significant private investor interest in the provision of additional overnight stay accommodation, suggesting that there is indeed a demand for this type of product within the area”.

However, this is not entirely reflected in the feedback of people who took part in the public consultation, with the council admitting that “the range of ‘better places to stay’ didn’t score highly”.

Indeed, only 10 per cent of the respondents stated that better places to stay should be provided, even though the consultation included responses from a small number of people from “as far away as London”.

The council says that its Visitor Economy Strategy 2021-2035 “drew on a wider consultation demographic” and identified it as “essential” to provide a greater range of accommodation services.

It also recommends “actively opening discussions with operators to attract destination hotels that can enhance the Borough of Scarborough’s offering and attract new visitors”.

Overall, including private investment in the project is considered necessary by the council “if it is to be realised in full” and it is noted that the proposals will “no doubt be subject to adaption as investment opportunities are crystallised over the coming months and years”.

The cabinet will decide on Friday 1 July whether the draft North Bay masterplan should be finalised and adopted.