LOCALS of a picturesque seaside town fear it could be “turn into Magaluf” under new plans by the council.
Scarborough’s historic West Pier is set to be transformed into a modern “must visit” tourism destination.
The regeneration project would see the opening of a top-end restaurant and bar with new street food kiosks and an events space.
But the project has led to fury from locals who fear the scheme could harm the North Yorkshire town’s fishing industry and hurt existing traders.
And one boat owner said the scheme would fail because it was TOO trendy.
Bob Roberts, 74, said: “We don’t want this place turning into Magaluf.
“This is a historic part of the town where people have fished for centuries.
“People come to visit the pier to see all the small boats and the bait boxes.
“The port is part of the town’s charm.
“The council think if they spend millions people will come to Scarborough and drink Chardonnay and eat caviar.
“The reality is people come here for a pint of John Smith’s and their fish and chips.
“Spending millions on a posh plaza won’t change that.”
The council has secured funding to turn the 200-year-old harbour offices into a high-end restaurant and turn an adjoining car park into a public walkway.
Town hall chiefs want to install new public loos and food kiosks serving up freshly-caught lobster.
But traders on the South Bay have formed a group to fight back against the plans.
Neil Arton, 57, who runs a gift shop selling rock, fudge and ice cream, feared plans to remove 200 car parking spaces would hit his trade.
He said: “You ask anyone – nobody is in favour of this.
“It’s not what people come to Scarborough for.
“The harbour is used by fishermen every day – it’d kill of their livelihoods if it was all suddenly pedestrianised.
“One thing Scarborough really doesn’t need is a high-end restaurant and bar. We’ve got loads of restaurants and bars.
“They should be spending the money in the town centre, which is on its knees and in desperate need of support.”
Scarborough council says the aim of the scheme” is to secure a prosperous working harbour, champion fishing heritage and local seafood” and ”create a must visit destination for hospitality, leisure and events”.
It insists that helping the town’s fishing industry is central to its redevelopment plans.
Tourists to the resort had mixed views on the project, due to start later this year.
Tanya Parker, 49, from Wakefield, West Yorks, said: “I prefer the history – the old harbour, the small fishing boats.
“I think it is part of the heritage of the town and it’s why a lot of people come here.
“If they just replace it with some generic development that looks like anywhere else, then what does that achieve?
“Change is not always a good thing.”
Louise Bennett, 48, from Harrogate, North Yorks, added: “People go to places like Whitby because they’re charmed by the history.
“They love seeing the small boats coming in with crabs and lobsters and getting fish and chips by the sea.
“The pier is part of Scarborough’s character. I think it should be left alone.”
The 200-year-old harbour officers are currently rented out by creatives, including artists. They have been told they will be moved elsewhere under the scheme.
Local artist Captain Ants, 52, claimed the project had significantly changed from what had initially been proposed.
He said: “The money was meant to restore the building, not to turn it into a restaurant.
“Our voices aren’t being listened to. Everything they said they were going to do, they have reneged on.
“They are telling us what is going to happen, not asking us.”
Scarborough council said its vision had the backing of government and had been approved by councillors following a consultation.
A spokesperson said: “Our aim is for the scheme to support and help the fishing and hospitality industries to prosper, while at the same time creating a destination that becomes the focal point for leisure activity and events within South Bay.
“The plans have the backing of government, many other town centre business owners and leaders who form the Town Deal board for Scarborough.
“We disagree with the claims of lack of consultation. Regular consultation has taken place with people that will be directly impacted by the scheme and other interested parties since the inception of the project in June 2021. There have been many opportunities for views to be shared and listened to.
“Activity has included individual and group engagement sessions, design consultation and other ad hoc meetings and briefings. More sessions are planned for April. Engagement will also continue up to and beyond the planning application stage.”