On Wednesday 1 March, local influencers met to discuss the regeneration and the future of Torbay’s town centres.
The idea behind this first Forum meeting was for the TDA to tap into the expertise of investors, developers, retailers and creative businesses.
Cllr Richard Haddock, Executive Lead for Business and Chairman of Torbay Council’s Town Centre Regeneration Board, said: “Successful town centre regeneration is crucial for Torbay. Whilst the Council and TDA are willing to lead on delivery, that work needs the support and involvement of communities and businesses, inside and outside Torbay. This Forum worked well. There was unanimous support for the long term outcomes we’re looking for; there was unanimous support for the first phase of work, which is based on the need to build confidence amongst developers and investors. All involved with the Forum were more confident about the future at the end of the meeting.”
Representatives from Morgan Sindall, Bettesworths, Edinburgh House, and a number of retailers, creatives and town centre managers provided valuable insight on the day and confirmed they want to be involved in shaping the future of town centres.
Pat Steward, Town Centres Regeneration Programme Director at TDA, said “We’re focused on achieving a better consumer experience. This includes a greater mix of uses within the town centres – including retail, residential, commercial and event space. There will be a refocused retail offer, for example using Torquay’s waterfront unique selling point to attract more aspirational retailers, which links to ‘Love Your High Street’ and the Bay’s great tourism and cultural offer.”
The first phase of delivery includes value adding development adjacent to Torquay Town Hall, on The Terrace in Torquay, part of Paignton Harbour, and in Brixham’s Town Centre. All of these sites have been supported by the community through the development of the Local Plan. There are also plans to create a new civic heart to Paignton, around the two stations, and to improve car parks at Lower Union Lane and Victoria Centre. In addition, the Council and TDA continue to support a private sector led redevelopment of Crossways, Paignton.
Pat continued: “If we get this first phase right, we could see at least £130m of development coming forward. It will deliver 1,200 jobs, more than 500 homes and 10,000m² of commercial space. It would also lead to more than £500,000 in community benefit. Those are great outcomes, but we are really focused on creating a great place, not just great developments. So, we want to introduce a small grant scheme to help property owners improve buildings on the High Street. The Council is looking to invest up to £8M in better public realm in town centres. Together this will generate a lot of confidence, jobs and investment in Torbay.”