THE company behind Torquay's long-awaited Torwood Street development has changed ownership.
It has been revealed two directors of fashion giants Ted Baker have become the new owners of New English Riviera Estates.
The pair have been involved as private investors in the £20million shops, restaurants and hotel project since it started in 2008.
Company records show that they became directors in the summer.
Now developers Havard Tisdale — also currently working on the Palm Court project — have revealed the company ownership has changed hands.
New owners Raymond Kelvin and Lindsay Page are said to be keen to get on with the high profile project.
The developers say the Torwood Street scheme has proved more difficult to get off the ground because of the need to pre-let to tenants before work can start. It has been described as 'like herding cats' in the past.
Torbay's deputy mayor David Thomas (pictured) said: "If this is something that helps to bring the site forward quicker I certainly applaud it."
In a statement, Havard Tisdale said: "There has recently been a change in the ultimate ownership of New Riviera Estates Ltd in favour of the private investors who have been Havard Tisdale's long-term partners since 2008.
"Our partners, who are now the directors of the company, have funded the Torwood Street project since 2008. They have confirmed to Havard Tisdale that they remain committed to developing the site in the very near future. Havard Tisdale looks forward to seeing the transformation of this important town centre site into a high quality landmark development, which will add vibrancy and life to Torwood Street and to the wider harbour area."
Director Peter Tisdale said: "The new owners have been involved since the beginning so this is not a fundamental change, effectively it is the same people.
"This should not effect progress on the site, it can only help. They are still very excited by the project."
Cllr Thomas said: "It has been a concern to me that any major developer with two projects on the go tend to put all their efforts into one particular project. We have been seeing great progress on the Palm Court."
Mr Tisdale said with work now well under way on Palm Court, which they will call Abbey Crescent, their attention has been on that project.
"The work on Palm Court has been a slow process but that is because of the general challenges faced when you are demolishing a large building in a busy area in a town centre site next to a main road," he said. "It is a painstaking operation as we have to be very careful."
He said they were still in the process of resolving the party wall issue with a neighbouring owner.
"We are just following the standard process and hope to have a conclusion in the not too distance future so we can move on to the next stage."
He confirmed that until the party wall process was completed they were limited in the demolition they could carry out.
Steve Parrock, chief executive of Torbay Development Agency, said: "We look forward to working with the new owners, and anticipate a new impetus and momentum.
"John Harvard and Peter Tisdale have successfully brought forward the redevelopment of the former Palm Court Hotel and we wish them every success."