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First draft of Bay blueprint out for public consultation

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

LAUNCH:   Cllr Andrew Baldrey, Cllr David Thomas, spatial planning service manager Steve Turner, mayor Gordon Oliver, executive head of spatial planning Les Crump and Cllr Mike Morey

LAUNCH: Cllr Andrew Baldrey, Cllr David Thomas, spatial planning service manager Steve Turner, mayor Gordon Oliver, executive head of spatial planning Les Crump and Cllr Mike Morey

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THE first draft of the blueprint which sets out how Torbay may change and grow over the next 20 years is out to public consultation.

An improved economy, providing more good quality homes and enhancing the Bay's beautiful environment are key targets for the new draft Local Plan document called A Landscape For Success.

It also includes proposals for some major developments including a third harbour for Torquay, a Northern Arm for Brixham and sports facilities at Clennon Valley.

Between now and Friday, November 9, residents are being invited to comment on the ambitious plan.

Cllr David Thomas, deputy mayor and executive lead for strategic planning, housing and energy, said: "We need to plan for a successful Torbay, where there are opportunities to improve the economy, provide good quality homes and enhance our beautiful environment. We need to be ambitious, otherwise we will fail to get the best for Torbay."

The plan aims to create 750 jobs a year in Torbay, around 3,750 jobs in the next five years (see page 9).

It prioritises economic growth and new jobs for the Bay. That includes some innovative proposals to breathe new life and vitality into Torbay's town centres, policies to secure 1.5 jobs per house, and promotion of investment into core tourism areas.

The five key aspirations are:

economic recovery and success

a better connected, accessible Torbay

protect and enhance a superb environment

make of the most of climate change

more sustainable communities and better places.

Torbay's unique environment is said to be at the heart of the plan.

The plan tries to make the most of the benefits that the new South Devon Link Road.

Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver said: "This plan focuses on those outcomes and, specifically, what we need to do over the next five years.

"Critically, it plays to the Bay's unique strengths — its natural and built environmental qualities, its harbours, its people and its brand as the English Riviera.

"It does not shy away either from the challenges, for example ambitious economic recovery, improving skills and using local labour, urban renewal, and careful balancing of jobs and housing."

Cllr Alison Hernandez, executive lead for involved and healthy communities, said: "We are taking a lead nationally on Neighbourhood Planning, having set up a Neighbourhood Planning Forum in each town to encourage even more community involvement in planning.

"No other unitary authority in the country is covering all of its area with Neighbourhood Plans and preparing a new Local Plan in tandem with those plans.

"This draft Local Plan has evolved with significant input from Torbay's residents, businesses and communities. It is important for people to continue to be involved."

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  • paigntonres  |  October 07 2012, 4:52PM

    Building more houses for ourselves = economic growth, are you sure Sallyhope? Presumably these "houses" will require more schools, doctors, roads, etc. I thought the problem was that we owed £1 trillion to someone. Unless we are selling these houses to foreigners I don't see how we are gaining any income.

  • realityzone  |  October 07 2012, 10:44AM

    The thing is Cweed is that whatever people feel about re-generation more employment or staying the same the inescapable fact is that policy failures are leading to an ever diminishing quality of life in overcrowded areas wheres there are vast areas in the EU which are underpopulated. We have lost control of the situation by virtue of being members of the EU

  • TorbayLuvva  |  October 07 2012, 7:30AM

    Ant__, unfortunately you're right about the last Local Plan (1995-2011) not achieving much. Looking at jobs growth in the Bay for example, the South West Observatory website – quoted as a data source by the draft new Local Plan (2012-2032) as the "Regional Observatory" – states that 40,669 people were in full-time employment in the Bay back in 1995, yet over the 16 years to 2011, this total only increased by 3,880 jobs to 44,549. Many of those years from 1995-2011 were obviously "boom" years for the UK economy which almost certainly won't be repeated any time over at least the next decade. Hence my questioning below as to why Torbay Council now thinks in the draft version of the new Local Plan it can suddenly create 750 new jobs each and every year for the next 20 years, or 15,000 new jobs in total. As I say below, official studies have estimated that the Kingskerswell Bypass will help, but is only likely to create about 3,000 new jobs in Torbay. So perhaps 5,000 to 7,000 new jobs over the next 20 years is much more realistic? It is clearly important to send out a positive message about the Bay in the new Local Plan, however predicting wholly unrealistic levels of jobs growth is dangerous because of the knock-on effect on so many other areas of strategic planning such as the number of new houses needed.

  • TorbayLuvva  |  October 05 2012, 8:58PM

    sallyhope, you are right to say there is a need for new housing in Torbay, but it isn't a "massive" need as you say, and the need is certainly not more than 10,000 new homes as you suggest. What is needed primarily is affordable housing, yet the Council has allowed only 15% affordable housing to be built on the Yannons Farm site next to Sainsburys in Paignton when its stated policy is 30% affordable housing for all major developments. You are also factually incorrect when you say that there are plenty of sites in Torbay that wouldn't harm the environment. Council commissioned surveys have shown that there is only room for a maximum of about 6,000 new dwellings on brownfield sites in the Bay and these sites include several of the existing holiday parks. Clearly this means that the other 4,000 homes of the 10,000 being proposed would have to be built on greenfield sites. We really don't need any more than 6,000 new dwellings to meet a housing requirement based on the latest population projections (statistics which are obviously vitally important in strategic planning, despite what you may think), so it follows that there is no need to destroy any more of Torbay's dwindling countryside. The old RSS figures are irrelevant now and the figure of 10,000 new dwellings or even 8-10,000 will undoubtedly be found to be "unsound" at the Independent Inquiry stage.

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  • sallyhope  |  October 05 2012, 3:58PM

    Torbayluvva, I couldn't given two hoots about population statistics to be honest. There is a massive requirement for new housing. What I do believe passionately in is that housing development is not a bad thing, and there are plenty of sites in Torbay that wouldn't harm the environment. Of course, I don't want poorly designed developments. Good development = good community benefits and good for the local economy. Many places have taken the view that they need to grow to be successful. As I have said before, 8-10000 new homes does not meet Torbay's need for housing. Just look at the previous regional figures. I bet 8-10000 won't get through.

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  • Ant__  |  October 05 2012, 12:55PM

    Anyone got an evaluation of how well the last local plan did. Based on no evidence whatsoever I am thinking that few of its objectives were achieved. This one going to fare any better ?

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  • TorbayLuvva  |  October 05 2012, 11:46AM

    Cweed - you say my aspirations laid out are "we want economic growth, we want regeneration we want a more sustainable future but we also want to stay the same". This is not true. I don't want or expect Torbay to stay the same. The point is that planning permission has already been given recently for nearly 2,000 new dwellings across the Bay, yet there are no new jobs to go with them. There is plenty of existing industrial and business space in the Bay which has been standing empty for a long time, so the idea that in the current economic climate, a new plan is somehow going to be able to create 750 new full-time jobs, each and every year from now on, is unrealistic. It is simply aspirational nonsense and not based on any evidence or reality. The Council is quick to point to all of the employment space having already been taken at the Yannons Farm development site but this is simply bringing an existing business, currently operating over three sites in the Bay, onto one site and the planning documents suggest it will only create 10 new jobs when the factory opens, perhaps next year. But, for example, 10 jobs have just been lost in the Bay this week with the closure of JJB Sports. It is simply the unrealistic scale of the aspirational jobs growth which is the problem and the result is that thousands of new houses are being built and could continue to be built without there being any new jobs for the new residents. Regarding population growth, 10,000 new houses are not required in Torbay because of forecast population growth. For several years now the Council has been peddling the myth that Torbay's population is predicted to grow by 20-25,000 people over the next 20 years. The truth is very different. Official results published by the Office for National Statistics in July show that Torbay's resident population only increased by 1,400 people over the 10 year period from the Census in 2001 to the Cenus last year in 2011. Additionally, Torbay is very unusual in that due to its high proportion of elderly people, the death rate actually exceeds the birth rate which is unlike the vast majority of the UK. So all things considered, you really do need to question whether 10,000 new homes are really necessary because Torbay is already very built-up and congested. Economic growth and prosperity can be achieved in Torbay by putting all the empty properties back into use, building only on existing brownfield sites and converting a limited number of retail premises which are no longer viable into residential properties. Just a few thousand new homes over the next 20 years would be sufficient whereas 10,000 would cause even more congestion in the area, tourists would go and spend their money elsewhere and Torbay would be shooting itself in the foot as regards its tourist industry.

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  • Cweed  |  October 05 2012, 9:33AM

    realityzone you are right but this has been an ever growing problem since the industrial revolution. Industry needs employees, people need an income to live so they moved from the rural areas to the areas where he industry is. This in turn creates more jobs so more people move in to the area eventually creating overcrowded hotspots. It's just that in the past it happened on a local or national scale now it happens on a global scale. Many of these people then aspire to find ways out of this overpopulated rat race and move to less populated areas, like Torbay, where they will oppose any proposition to turn it into the area that they have come from. So to sum up the aspirations laid out we want economic growth, we want regeneration we want a more sustainable future but we also want to stay the same.

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  • realityzone  |  October 05 2012, 8:47AM

    This is already the most overcrowded country in Europe. A signal failure of the EU is that, although it aspires to control everything in a well meaning bid to improve our lives, it's influence, through doing away with our borders within the EU, has been to shift populations into the most crowded areas. There a vast swathes of the EU to the east which are underpopulated but in the the south and east of the UK we will reach a point where we just do not have the room for an ever burgeoning population.

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  • Chunder123  |  October 04 2012, 1:51PM

    We need an entirely new system for the future. THe population will continue to expand yet the worlds land area remains the same size. YOU don't have to be Einstein to figure out that presents problems for the future. Canada still has much unused space which could support new towns and cities. I think canada will see much of the worlds development and new towns and cities in the future to deal with the increasing population. the praries have so much unused land you could develop entirely new cities on that land. in the future we will need to find new areas for the increasing population that the uk just won't have space for. so much of canada has space for new cities and towns to be developed in areas where life could live comfortably. Seems a shame to waste it. I wish we could start building new towns and cities right now on areas of our planet which would develop new jobs for people which are desperately needed.

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