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Torquay town centre 'regeneration' starts as town hall car park leased to supermarket developer

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

Torquay Town Hall

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A DECISION to lease the town hall car park in Torquay to a supermarket developer has been hailed as the start of a major regeneration of the town centre.

Councillors have agreed to enter into a contract with developers to build a 4,000 sq metre sales space on the site.

Negotiations between the council and developers to build on the site at Lymington Road have been ongoing for some time although the name of the supermarket has yet to be revealed.

The council sees the development of the car park as the first piece in a wider plan to give the Castle Circus area a major economic boost.

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The hope is the presence of a major food retailer will encourage shoppers into the town centre and encourage other well-known brands to come to Torquay.

There was broad cross-party support for the plan at a meeting of the full council.

Cllr Alan Tyerman, executive lead for finance and audit, said the proposal to enter into a conditional contract was a 'positive development for Torbay'.

He said: "The town hall car park is one of the very few places in Torquay suitable for development."

He said councillors had to decide whether the offer on the table from Hawkstone PLC was the right one.

Cllr Steve Darling said the proposal was worth it to 'spike the guns of the large out of town supermarkets'.

He proposed an amendment to the recommendation which was agreed by councillors.

The amendment says the terms of a 199-year lease will ensure an annual ground rent of £50,000 plus car parking income together with a capital receipt of not less than £2.5million. The contract to lease the land will be subject to the developer getting planning permission. An application must be made within six months.

Cllr Darren Cowell said: "In my opinion this will help stimulate the growth Torquay needs."

He said the sight of cranes working at developments across the town, such as Palm Court and Torwood Street, could only be good for the area.

Cllr Jenny Faulkner said the area was in desperate need of economic stimulation.

"The fact that we're regenerating the area can only be good," she said.

Cllr Chris Lewis said it was the start of a 20-year vision for improving the town.

"What it will do is attract better shops to Torquay," he added.

It was left to Cllr Cindy Stocks to issue the only word of caution.

She said the Coalition for the Disabled and Shopmobility would need assurances that they could find alternative bases once they make way for the scheme.

Cllr Tyerman said he would do his best to make sure their views were represented.

Deputy mayor David Thomas said it was 'time to put words into action' and get on with the development.

He said: "The scheme has created other interest within town centre locations. I'm confident this is the first.

"We've got other developments in the wings who want to bring forward other town centre schemes which has to be the way forward."

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  • robocop1982  |  February 16 2013, 6:15PM

    buy your food from independent markets and shops not supermarkets. together if we abandon these supermarkets we can increase the chances of them going out of business. Imagine a local shop where everything was just freshly cooked food of 5 star quality and low prices with everything ready to go and not over packaged like supermarkets. if we got rid of supermarkets and butchers animals would stop being brutally killed also for profit. you could live without meat or fish. I don't like seeing people survive on the genocide of another species. to me that is almost as bad as canibalism. THose animals are our friends and people kill them in slaughter houses just for profit. everybody could have keep cows in their gardens as pets and they would live happier lives. some people could never imagine trying such ideas because they are bound by evil not very intelligent governments.

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  • Crueys  |  February 16 2013, 4:51PM

    @EdnaFruitcake..what a sad person you seem to be ... can't you think of anything else to say within your comments......always the same ....... getting a bit boring now

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  • spindleshanks  |  February 16 2013, 8:39AM

    That will teach me to proof read before posting. Naughty "their" slipped in. Forgot to mention there have been discussions of a town centre square on the site of the car park - perhaps this could be accommodated on the top deck of the multi-storey and designed in such a way that it could be used for markets, car boots, etc? In fact for anything that would encourage people back into the town centre.

  • spindleshanks  |  February 16 2013, 8:28AM

    This is surely welcome news and credit should go to local people, (including town traders), who initiated the idea at the first meeting of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan (http://tinyurl.com/7ylfvsn) Town Centre group just over a year ago? This larger supermarket will without doubt attract people back into Torquay town centre in the same way Morrisons has in Totnes and Asda has in Newton Abbot. Both towns have thriving centres and independent butchers, bakers, etc., doing very well from the increased footfall. A £2.5 million cash windfall and £50,000 p.a. ain't bad either in the current economic climate. The increase in the number of available parking spaces on the site should help too. I think the actual words used in that first TNP meeting were " let's USE one of the large grocery supermarkets to bring people back from the Willows". The other conclusion reached in that same meeting was that without this supermarket you could wave goodbye to a good third of the retail units in Torquay. Of course there will be those who live in Torquay who will want to discuss the merit of continuing to drive to the Willows to do their grocery shopping as they are able to park their for "free". Have they not considered the fuel costs of driving there in the first place and their "I'm all right Jack as I've got a car" attitude? We need a decent, reasonably priced supermarket in Torquay town centre to cater for those residents not able to get out to the Willows and another out-of-town supermarket, (as proposed at Edginswell), will not help them and would simply be the final nail in the coffin for Torquay town centre. Looking ahead and the fact that Torquay town centre is one of the few areas in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan that has stated would welcome development of new residential properties, the town is going to need a decent supermarket. Funny how just about every other area in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan has taken a "NIMBY" approach whilst wanting to have a say in the way people living in Torquay town centre should be living their lives including, it would appear, where they shop for groceries. Some of the most deprived people in Torbay are having to pay some of the highest food prices in the area and that is clearly wrong. Hats off to both Torbay Development Agency and Torbay Council for listening to the common sense given by local people and local town traders and let's hope BRATS, if they decide to decamp to Torquay from Brixham are shown the door.

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