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Plan for Torquay town centre rejuvenation on table

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 05, 2012

Torquay Town Hall

Torquay Town Hall

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AMBITIOUS plans for reviving Torquay town centre are being discussed as part of the new local plan for the area.

A supermarket on the Lymington Road car park, a major redevelopment of the upper Union Street area, and a redrawing of the map of recognised prime retail areas are being discussed by the town centre group of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan.

Among the ideas being discussed ahead of public consultation are introducing more leisure facilities into the town centre, including another cinema, indoor sports facilities and a modern Torquay library, similar to the Paignton development, with community facilities such as meeting rooms and education facilities.

It has been suggested that controls are relaxed so properties in the fringe areas of the town centre can be more easily converted for new uses such as a doctors' surgery, gym or residential.

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Another proposal is to make Castle Circus another focal point in the town for markets, entertainment, concerts and Christmas events.

Chairman of the group John Doherty, of Dot's Pantry, said they were working towards creating a vision for the town centre and are keen to encourage more retailers and town centre business people to get involved.

"It is a plan for improving the town centre, which is doesn't cost anybody any extra to be involved with. We are keen to hear local people's views.

"We hope the new plan will open doors for investors to spend some money in our town."

Another meeting will be organised once the ideas from the group are collated.

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Mr Doherty on 01803 294396.

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  • neeneeoil  |  September 11 2012, 6:44PM

    Smart letter SmartyC!

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  • SmartyC  |  September 06 2012, 7:45PM

    Let's start with the basics first before we move on to the grandiose stuff. 1. Get rid of parking meters. If people want to pay for convenience there are three large pay car parks. 2. Get rid of the buses from Fleet Walk. It would actually be quite a pleasant shopping environment without a constant stream of noisy smelly buses herding pedestrians to the sides like snow ploughs. 3. Clean the place up! Get the paint brushes out, get rid of the graffiti, the litter, the grot. We already know that there's £600,000 going begging, our mayor was about to flush it down the toilet before a tidal wave of common sense forced him to change his mind. 4. Lower the cost of parking in the car parks, if only until the town has begun to get re-established. 5. Get rid of the chuggers. No one wants to be continually accosted for money. The trouble is that no one at Torbay Council seems willing or able to deal with basic "house keeping". It's a bit like having a run down tatty old house, and planning a big conservatory and a swimming pool.

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  • Karen362  |  September 06 2012, 6:35PM

    Yes, sorry, that's right, Realityzone. It was the Theatre Royal and I seem to recall that Dickens once performed a reading of his work there. Is it listed, BTW? If so, it's difficult to see it getting planning permission for a change of useage - another reason for not putting it out of business...

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  • Gazza05  |  September 06 2012, 6:11PM

    Mikelister 66, re your comment regarding local employment opportunities, you are actually incorrect. Part of the Local Government procurement tender evaluation process includes Community Benefits, for which part of the scoring is made up. This includes local employment (including apprenticeships), utilising local suppliers where possible, as well environmental factors (as well as a whole host of other things). The tender process is actually quite complicated, and is not solely decided upon lowest tender return. I speak as a Local Government Officer (Electrical Engineer), that regularly tenders works (including OJEU, so not just relatively low value stuff). Oh, and by the way - not in the Bay, but London.

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  • mikelister66  |  September 06 2012, 11:24AM

    @gettingangry - there is no way you can put that sort of clause into a contract. It goes completely against open tender and employment policies. Bringing those big firms into the area actually benefits in different ways as the workers need places to stay, places to eat, transport to site etc. They spread money across more companies instead of giving it all to one local contractor.

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  • realityzone  |  September 06 2012, 8:19AM

    Small correction Karen; The Central Cinema in Abbey road ( formerly the Odeon ) was originally the Theatre Royal, theatre and sometimes styled as an "opera house"

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  • gettingangry  |  September 06 2012, 7:51AM

    If these plans ever get past the planning stage let`s please make sure the work is given to people living locally. It`s heartbreaking to see large companies from outside the area given contracts when we have people who are desperate for work in our own towns. Or put a clause in the contract that locals must represent a high percentage of the workforce.

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  • Karen362  |  September 05 2012, 3:38PM

    I'm afraid all this is pie in the sky, you know. Cinema audiences are down because people can't afford to pay seven quid to attend peak evening shows in a modern cinema complex and those with any kind of disposable income are usually too busy rushing around doing 2 or 3 jobs to break even. The old heritage site that houses the Central Cinema (it used to be the Palace Theatre in Victorian times) offers cut price tickets, but everyone goes to Paignton Apollo because it's more aspirational, I suppose. Torquay already has a museum that's heavily subsidised by local council tax payers, so the last things it needs right now is another cinema. As for a new library, let's not even go there, folks. The one in Paignton was needed but cost an army of arms and legs in the process. We're talking millions here, don't forget. And it's money we just don't have any more. The trouble is that they keep talking up the Castle Circus site because most of the municipality is ensconced there and they seem to think aspirational hype of this order will keep the current incumbents safe until they're able to apply for early retirement. The only way any further civic development could be justified there is if they were to demolish the Job Centre and build some kind of leisure facility there. But even that would presumably be used mainly by town hall employees during the lunch hour and isn't like to generate much of an increase in retail footfall. In the long-term, of course, much depends on what happens to the existing facilities at The Riviera Centre and Oldway Mansion. But I would have thought the best place for leisure facilities would be nearer the seafront. Personally, I would like to see any spare money used to build some kind of open air spa complex, which locals and tourists could enjoy all year round. Anyway, I've said my two penny's worth (literally). I'm just glad I live in Paignton now...

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  • wenvoe444  |  September 04 2012, 3:39PM

    Plans are great schemes for the future - if any are put into operation.

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  • Cweed  |  September 04 2012, 2:37PM

    We have become a nation of planners. Don't actually do anything just come up with plans. 5 year plans are good because within a few years new faces will be at the helm and they will will come up with a new set of plans. 20 year plans are even better because they can be buried in the archives. Plans give hope that something will improve, one day, maybe and make the planners look as if they are doing something, when all they are really doing is producing plans. If all the resources put into worrying about the future was put into improving today then the future would take care of itself. For too long we have been obsessed with the future at the expense of the present.

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