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Demolishing the Futurist - What Would be Involved

Demolishing the Futurist - What Would be Involved

Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 1:50pm 23rd December 2016.

Scarborough Borough Councillors will be asked to vote on proposals to demolish the Futurist Theatre at a meeting on January 9th.

If they approve the plans what will the process of demolition involve and what would be the risks?



In 2013 the Council's Cabinet considered the conclusions of a report that had been commissioned in to the future of the theatre site. The report concluded that..

"the continued operation of the Futurist Theatre was unsustainable and the preferred option was to redevelop the Town Hall and wider site to support the ongoing economic regeneration of Scarborough"

REPORT : Read the Full 'Wafer Hadley' report on the Futurist

Council Officers were then instructed to offer the site for tender to potential developers.

In September 2014 Flamingo Land were appointed as the preferred bidder for the site. A condition of Flamingo Land’s proposal was that the Council would take responsibility for the demolition of the Futurist building, site clearance and stability of the slope to the rear.

At a Cabinet meeting on September 16th 2014 the Cabinet approved 'in-principle' that the council would take on these responsibilities.



Following the 'in-principle' decision to demolish the building, Council Officers were tasked with obtaining appropriate permissions for the potential demolition, and competitive quotes for the demolition and stabilisation works.

Initial surveys had identified that the Futurist building provided support to the slope behind it, and all surveys recommended that further and more extensive investigations should be carried out to confirm the assumptions made and to enable a technically safe design solution to be developed for the demolition of the building.

One solution considered for the provision of a larger development footprint was to install an arrangement of concrete filled steel piles tied back into the retained ground using ground anchors. The piles would penetrate approximately 9.5m below ground and vary above ground by up to 10m in height and the ground anchors would penetrate 30m into the ground. 5.5

However it was concluded that this option would have been intrusive and potentially disruptive to adjacent properties, and more difficult to construct with higher associated risks and costs.

Consequently an alternative, less intrusive solution was progressed which would provide a smaller development footprint which is easier to construct with less risk, but still has ample space for development.

Construction firm Wilmott Dixon were approached to undertake a feasibility study into the demolition and stabilisation. 

Their study proposes:

  • Remove the mass of the slope by excavating 4m deep within King Street car park to create a development platform, and then a second slope at 45 degrees to form a lower development platform. It is assumed the material removed is taken off site to be stored or disposed of with it being likely to be classified as non-hazardous waste.
  • The slope is then regraded to a profile of no steeper than 27 degree angle of repose.
  • At the bottom of the slope the existing retaining walls to the rear of the Futurist Buildings are retained.
  • The removal of the mass from the upper slope allows the first phase of the safe demolition of the buildings with the additional retaining walls not being required until after that first phase of demolition.
  • Strip out of soft fixtures and fittings and removal of asbestos can take place through the front of the building.
  • The completion of the careful demolition by hand and machine of the rear of the building can then safely take place until the majority of the building is removed.
  • New concrete retaining walls, 4m high are then constructed within the footprint of the existing building with the walls supported on concrete piled foundations.
  • The area between the existing retaining wall and the new retaining wall is then backfilled to form a final slope either with new imported fill material or re-used fill and demolition materials if possible.
  • This will provide a lower tier development site on Foreshore Road of approximately 50m x 15.4m, onto which a three storey leisure shell of approximately 2300 m2 gross floor area can subsequently be developed

futurist excavationTHE PLAN - See the full Technical Design Details and Costs

The King Street Car Park will be no longer be available as a consequence of the less intrusive design for the demolition of the Futurist Theatre

The estimated cost of demolishing the Futurist and adjoining buildings, including a contingency provision, and internal professional fees is estimated to be £3.988m.



The report to be presented to Councillors on January 9th highlights a number of risks associated with the redevelopment including:

  • If ground conditions prove to be different from those indicated by previous investigations there could be a need for more steel piles or concrete foundations leading to a potential cost increase.
  • Catastrophic slope collapse - this is considered unlikely but would have a major impact on seafront businesses, roads and the local residents. 



The full council meeting on January 9th will be asked to approve the allocation of £4m for the demolition of the Futurist Theatre and adjoining buildings and the stabilisation of the cliff.

If the councillors vote not to support the funding then the alternative option put forwards in the report states that:

"since Cabinet have already made the decision based on experts’ reports that the operation of the Futurist Theatre as a theatre is not sustainable, then the Theatre and adjoining buildings will remain in their current state of repair, with only minimum repairs being carried out to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements."

The report goes on to state that the outcome of a no vote would be:

  • The Futurist remains as a redundant site.
  • Building continues to deteriorate.
  • Costs of ongoing maintenance of the building.
  • Loss of development opportunity.
  • Difficulty in safeguarding the building.

The full report being presented to Councillors on January 9th is available HERE.


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