Work on Scarborough’s new £18 million waterpark development could begin as soon as July, The Scarborough News can reveal.
The ambitious project, which the council believes will be on a par with attractions in Dubai and Miami, has been given the go-ahead.
It is scheduled to open to visitors at Easter 2016, with up to half a million people a year expected to enjoy the park.
Although Scarborough Council was not able to say when the work would begin the Scarborough News has learnt that developer Benchmark Properties Ltd is aiming to have workers on site in ‘quarter three this year’ – putting the start date anywhere between July and the end of September.
It will form part of the wider £150 million The Sands development.
The waterpark will be built on land to the rear of the Burniston Road carpark after council leader Tom Fox signed off on a £9 million loan to the developers following a third-party financial assessment.
It brought to an end a saga which has been running for close to a decade, and there has been talk of a new indoor all-weather attraction for years prior.
Cllr Fox said: “This decision is a significant milestone and should be the catalyst that will get The Sands project moving once again and bring massive economic benefits, not just to Scarborough, but the whole borough too.
“While there is an element of risk, it shows the confidence we have in the scheme and demonstrates the council’s strong commitment to economic growth, regeneration and jobs.
“It is now over to Benchmark to deliver a first class attraction we can all be proud of.”
Initially it will feature four water rides, which the council claims will be ‘some of the best rides available in the world’, a wave pool, a luxury spa suite and an outdoor iodine infinity pool.
There are also plans for other features to be added to the waterpark under future development phases. Roland Duce, from Benchmark, added: “Scarborough’s place in history as the first seaside resort is assured, but it’s important the town continues to evolve in order to attract new generations of visitors.
“The waterpark will be a world-class attraction of the very highest calibre and I look forward to delivering it for the people of Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast.”
The council loan provided to Benchmark will be repaid through rental income from the water park operator and anticipated future profits from the delivery of the other elements of The Sands.
The 2,500-capacity waterpark will be operated by German company Alpamare, which successfully runs four attractions in Europe, including one in Ticino, Switzerland, which will be similar to Scarborough’s development.
Labour members on the council have added a note of caution, saying they are concerned at the level of risk levied against the authority.
Cllr Steve Siddons, Labour Group spokesman on Finance and Regeneration, said: “Whilst we are fully behind the principle of a waterpark for the North Bay; the plan as it currently stands carries an unacceptable level of risk.”