To provide you with the best experience on this website, cookies are used. By using the site it's assumed that you're happy with our use of cookies. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. More info on cookies.
Allow cookies

Latest News

Delivering town centre regeneration for Torbay

23rd March 2018

Categories: Latest News

The recent launch of the “Now is the Time” campaign provides a great platform to shout about successes, across Torbay and South Devon, from within the Bay’s communities to its global business activity.  There are already plenty of successes to celebrate, with some fantastic investment by Torbay Council in business space at White Rock, and by the Fragrance Group and Fairtree Capital in hotels and hospitality.  But, over the last few years, Torbay’s town centres have not attracted the investment they need.  Now is the Time not only gives us all the opportunity to broadcast the transformation planned for Torbay’s town centres, it also helps generate the momentum so necessary for success. 

I am a great believer in momentum.  I have seen it in people, who have achieved success in running marathons by running a little further every day. I have seen it in places, such as Exeter, where investment in the Met Office, Exeter University and Princesshay has led to so much more. And in sport – where a run of successes builds belief that a team can achieve so much more than the sum of its parts suggests. 

I may be a glass half full type of person, but momentum is building for Torbay’s town centres.  That is down to a range of factors, but the public sector has played its part: championing change, securing funding, investing money and delivering projects for the town centres.

One very recent success was the award, by Government, of almost £4M of Land Release Funding to Torbay Council.  This was the highest award to any Council in the country and really something to be proud of.  The amount of funding available nationally was £45m, so Torbay Council has done extremely well to secure almost 9% of the national ‘pot’ – especially as the fund was four times over-subscribed.  The bid not only raised the profile of Torbay and its ambitions, but it has also drawn in funding to deal with flooding, drainage issues and access to those sites. 

The bid for Land Release Funding was focused on town centre regeneration – with five regeneration sites being put forward.  The emerging redevelopment of Victoria Centre, Paignton was the only town centre project awarded funding – of £900,000 – which helps ensure a redevelopment, including new homes, can be delivered.  There is lots of work to do on this project yet, but it’s looking very promising.  Watch this space.

Another cause for celebration is the Council’s decision to fund (£1.2m) public realm improvements at Paignton Station Square – around the station, Victoria Street and Torbay Road.  The next stages of work, including design and work with local artists, is funded from Great Places funding.  Following agreement of a concept plan, which was welcomed by community and business leaders, a design team has been appointed.

Over the next 3 – 4 months that team will work on detailed designs, with artists and key people locally.  This will then move into a more technical design process and on to delivery.  We’re working on delivering the improvements in early 2019. In parallel, design work will continue on improvements to The Strand, as part of the Council’s continued investment in that area. That scheme is not yet funded, with £1.7m required for the first phase of work, but every effort is being made to draw in investment for this project.

As many people appreciate, High Streets are changing and need to change. The sad loss of BHS, New Look and other retailers are evidence of this.  Less focus on retail; more focus on diversity of offer and a good experience.  In Torquay, that means reducing the length of the High Street, providing space for more people to live and work in the town centre – especially in the top end of Union Street, above Market Street.  The Council is asking for Government and private sector support to deliver around 450 homes in this area.  Good quality retail will be retained, complemented by community and civic facilities, cafes, restaurants and, if possible, modern, flexible business space.  A refreshed, vibrant, diverse community at the top end of Torquay town centre would be brilliant and would boost the rest of the town centre. 

I am an avid reader of Frank Sobey’s articles - they are insightful, refreshing and very well written. In one recent article, Frank made a good point about asking people about what they really want.  The Council has done a lot of ‘asking people’ over the last few years and, based on feedback from those people, is now firmly in delivery mode for town centre regeneration.  But there is an ongoing conversation:  community and business leaders are regularly updated with progress on and contribute to town centre regeneration projects and plans.  As those projects develop, there will be further opportunity for community and business involvement. Paignton Station Square is a good example.  It’s good to talk; but it’s also important to deliver and to build momentum.

RSS feeds