Stagecoach’s bus depot in Torquay will be expanded with a new access road to prepare it for the future.
The proposals, which involve cutting down 45 trees, will make it easier for buses to enter and leave the depot on Regent Close and make space for electric buses.
Fourteen new trees will be planted and a 2.5-metre acoustic fence will be put up to act as a buffer for the surrounding residential area. Most of the existing woodland, located between the depot and houses along Newton Road and Old Woods Hill, will be left intact.
The depot has been running since the 1980s and employs around 200 people. When the new layout is in place, it will operate the same hours, closing only between 1 and 4 a.m. each day.
Torbay Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans, despite some concerns about the loss of trees. A previous application, which would have seen far more trees destroyed, was refused in 1996.
Addressing councillors, Mike Watson, managing director at Stagecoach South West, said the project would prepare the depot for an electric future and in the meantime create: “a more free-flowing and safer site, further negating the need for noisy reversing which, of course, comes with inherent risk.”
Mr Watson says the company is working with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Torbay’s Conservative MP Kevin Foster to try to secure government funding for the electric buses.
A previous bid to DfT failed, but the Stagecoach boss is confident the company will be successful in future. For now, it is not clear exactly when an electric bus service will run from the depot.
Responding to the plans, Councillor Karen Kennedy (Independent, Churston with Galmpton) said it was “disappointing” to lose so many trees, but added: “I do see the benefit and I understand why it’s needed.”
Councillor Jack Dart (Lib Dems, Ellacombe) said: “This is for the greater good…There does need to be something to give, and clearly it’s by the way of trees – but we’ll get cleaner air, we’ll get less noise and we’ll get electric buses, and I think that will offset the impact of cutting down the trees.”
Councillor Chris Lewis (Conservatives) echoed this conclusion, saying: “At the end of the day Stagecoach needs the tools to do the job.”
Councillors were keen to protect the remaining trees and granted planning permission subject to a number of conditions, including a detailed long-term woodland management plan for the area being agreed.
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