St Helen’s Square, Scarborough

Three buildings to be lost, including the Shakespeare Pub, for public realm improvements in Scarborough:

This is one of the strangest public sector led planning interventions I’ve seen.

The application, submitted by Scarborough Council (to be determined by Scarborough Council) involves the loss of three historic buildings including a mock Tudor half timbered pub, in order to create a setting for the restored market, and provide a moment between the town centre and the sea front to encourage movement between the two spaces.

The design statement also states that the setting will be improved as the building heights currently in place demonstrate too much variety, and that the notched corner is incongruous to the chamfered corners found elsewhere.

This is some of the most tenuous post-rationalisation I’ve ever heard. The removal of a pub will have the inverse effect to that intended, the variation in building heights offers modulation to the street frontage, and the notched corner provides an already sufficient amount of public realm for the cafe.

The loss of the buildings will also reveal a brick edifice, and a bare gable end which looks to be intended for some council sponsored public art. Get ready for rainbows and unicorns and holding hands.

Vociferous objection from Heritage England and many local groups have largely been ignored. If this was an application coming from the private sector, it would be refused without delay. However, as it is in the interest of Argos (the develop of the adjacent plot), and as the applicant will also determine the application, this will almost certainly happen.

I’d like to know the cost of this project. Compulsory purchase orders of three town centre commercial buildings, demolition costs, development costs, and revenue budgets for maintenance, will likely make this vanity project a pricey one for the Scarborough folk. And the loss of three residential dwellings is also a factor that has been completely overlooked.

Lets not go back to a time in which local authorities wield their power to clear buildings with the cavalier alacrity of the 1950s, only to regret it a decade later.

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