Town Centres Regeneration
Nothing says more about a town than its centre. It is the place that brings people together from across all its neighbourhoods, as well as from overseas, nearby cities, towns and villages. The centre is a town’s heart and will be the part of town that most residents and visitors will know. Rightly or wrongly, it will be the place that determines the view of many people of the town in its entirety. Put simply, Torbay’s town centres matter.
Torbay’s town centres face significant economic, social and environmental challenges. All three have huge potential and are set within a wonderful natural environment. There are signs, over the last year, of an improving economic performance, in areas such as GVA per worker, GVA growth and a growing workforce. But other places are also improving so, in relative terms, Torbay is falling behind. Market conditions, and specifically the uncertainty investors have in relation to values in town centres, make it very difficult to achieve town centre transformation at pace.
In April 2017, Torbay Council and TDA put in place a strategy to transform Torbay’s town centres to create a much better consumer experience. This strategy provides a sharp focus for ongoing regeneration work with the emphasis on place making, coupled with high quality development, which delivers a range of benefits to Torbay and drives further investment. The Strategy complements the Council’s Economic Strategy and Local Plan, the Culture Strategy, the emerging Destination Management Plan and Neighbourhood Plans, the completed town centre masterplans and Torbay Harbours masterplan.
In essence, the Transformation Strategy for Torbay’s Town Centres is based on what residents, businesses and investors have said they want to see happening.
In October 2017, the Council agreed a £25m Town Centre Regeneration Fund to deliver at least 5 regeneration projects, including:
- A hotel at Harbour View (part of Terrace Car Park ), Torquay
- A mixed use development at South Quay, Paignton Harbour
- Refurbishment of Lower Union Lane Multi-Storey Car Park, Torquay
- Public realm improvements between Torbay Road, Victoria Street and Paignton Train and Bus Stations
- A public realm improvement project for Torquay Town Centre
Progress is being made on the delivery of those projects:
- A planning application was submitted in March 2019 for delivery of 120 bed hotel on part of Terrace Car Park, following completion of a legal agreement for lease of the hotel to Whitbread / Premier Inn and completion of a construction contract with Midas.
- The opportunity for a mixed use development at South Quay has been tendered and will be progressed after May 2019.
- Public realm improvements for Paignton Station Square have been designed (to RIBA Stage 3 standards), with significant public engagement and support from the Great Places Fund. That project is now included as a ‘quick win’ in Torbay Council’s Expression of Interest for Future High Streets Funding.
- Public Realm improvements for The Strand, Torquay, are being designed (to RIBA Stage 3), with significant public engagement and support from the Great Places Fund. Funding is being sought to deliver the improvements.
Progress has also been made on the following projects:
- Land Release Funding of £900,000 has been secured for the delivery of new homes in place of the old car park at Victoria Centre, Paignton. Work is progressing to unlock that site for development, including the production of a Supplementary Planning Document to set out development parameters for the site.
- A development proposal, and associated business case, for Brixham Town Centre Car Park continue to be developed. Further progress will be made from early May 2019.
- The Council submitted, in March 2019, an Expression of Interest for Future High Streets Funding for Paignton town centre, totalling over £15m and supporting a further £24.5m of ‘paused’ investment. Read more about the bid here.
The former BHS in Union Street, Torquay, has been purchased by Merlin Cinemas. Conversion work is expected to start in early summer 2019 and full use of the building, as a multi-screen cinema, could generate around 300,000 visitors per annum to the high street.
For further information, contact Nigel Mills, Town Centre Regeneration Project Manager [email protected]