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Futurist Demolition Plans Put Forward

Futurist Demolition Plans Put Forward

Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 6:03am 16th October 2017.

Plans for the demolition of Scarborough's Futurist Theatre are to be discussed this week at a special planning committee meeting on Friday but may have to go to the secretary of state for final approval.

Borough Councillors voted to demolish the building at a full council meeting in January. Now detailed plans as to how the demolition will be carried out are to be submitted for planning permission. The plans  are purely concerned with the demolition of the buildings on the site and the stabalisation of the slope behind the theatre, there is nothing in the plans about what will happen to the site once demolition is complete and that has concerned some of the bodies who have been consulted over the plans.

THE PLANNING PROPOSAL :

This planning application proposes the demolition of the Futurist Theatre and
former Mermaid building, which are prominently located on Foreshore Road. It also
proposes regrading of the slopes to the rear up to King Street, which would entail
lowering the ground across most of the King Street Car Park. The application solely
relates to the demolition of the existing buildings, works to ensure slope stability,
mitigate the visual impact and ensure site security. Whilst the current proposals may
help to facilitate future redevelopment, the details of such a scheme would have to be
subject of a separate future application.

There are a number of organisations who have to be consulted over planning applications (Statutory Consultees), among them is Historic England who say..

"that permission for demolition of the Futurist buildings should not be granted until or unless an acceptable scheme for redevelopment of the site has been agreed and can be implemented"

In their written response to the planning application Historic England draw attention to the 2012 Development Brief for the site which advises that

"demolition of the Futurist should not be approved in isolation for this reason and demolition should be an immediate precursor of redevelopment."

One of their main concerns is that the site would be left as a large area of open space with a very tall retaining wall and that this would not preserve, and would certainly not enhance, the character of the adjacent conservation area.

Another of the Statutory Consultees, The Theatres Trust has submitted an objection to the application on the grounds that...

"it will result in the complete loss of a cultural facility without the provision of a replacement or plans for an appropriate alternative cultural use"

Again the lack of plans for the future of the site are raised as an issue by the Theatres Trust who say that lack of information breaches planning rules..

"This application does not consider any replacement or alternative cultural facilities and
is therefore contrary to both the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) and the Local Plan. The proposal fails to demonstrate sufficiently that the building is an unviable or a surplus facility, either in an on-going theatre use, or in an alternate cultural or community use"

In the case of the Theatres Trust this lack of a plan for the site has lead them to recommend that...

"this planning application should not be determined by Council's Planning Committee and should be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit for consideration"

In the application documents it is highlighted that the National Casework Planning Unit has written to the council to confirm that a formal request to intervene on the Futurist Theatre application has been made. This means that should the Planning Committee decide to approve the application on Friday  the Local Planning Authority has to agree not to issue a final decision until the Secretary of State has had the chance to consider the application for call-in.

The planning document accepts that the application does not comply with the guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework regarding future use of the site but goes on to explain that council officers feel separating the demolition plans from the future use plans is necessary to enable regeneration of the site.

It is accepted that the application does not comply with this guidance. However,
the application provides details of proposed interim remediation, so there would not be
the more tangible harm created if all that were to be left would be the unkempt remnants
of a demolished structure possibly set behind high hoardings. A further negative factor
sometimes associated with a leaving 'gap' site is the impact on the vitality of the area.
Clearly, when the building was operational it would have had a positive effect adding to
activity on the seafront, especially during the evening. However, the Futurist has now
been unused for 3 years (and the Mermaid even longer) and as explained later, it is not
considered that there is a realistic prospect that its use will resume, so removal would in the short-term have minimal negative impact on vitality and in the longer term would
help to facilitate redevelopment, thus increasing the chances of returning the site to a
more active use which would accord with the fundamental principles of the
Development Brief. There is also the possible prospect of temporary uses on the area
fronting Foreshore Road following demolition and before redevelopment, but as
previously stated, both this and interpretation boards showing of the history of the site
fall outside the scope of what may be secured by condition.

There were a total of 77 responses to the councils consultation on the plans which included 74 objections to the demolition including from the Twentieth Century Society and the Cinema Theatre Association, 2 general comments about the plans and 1 letter of support.

Here is a link to the full Futurist Demolition Planning Document

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