Clifftop hole overlooking prom to be filled at last - by flats

Torbay Weekly

A clifftop 'hole' where a hotel once stood overlooking Torquay seafront is to be filled at last - with a block of flats.

The Conway Court Hotel in Warren Road burned down 10 years ago. Now councillors have given gave permission for the building with 14 flats in its place.

The former private villa became a hotel which closed in 2002 and was demolished after a fire in 2011, leaving a fenced-off gap in the road.

A previous plan for a building with 14 flats on the site was approved in 2014, but was not started.

Local residents objected to the height and size of the proposed new building, arguing it was out of keeping with the style of Victorian villas in the Belgravia Conservation area.

They also complained that the proposed 15 internal parking spaces for 14 two-bedroom flats was not enough and would put pressure on limited on-street parking.

The plans show a building on four levels facing Warren Road, with two further levels on lower land on the sloping site facing the sea bordering Rock Walk.

A planning report said the proposed new block was between 80cm and 30cm higher than the previously approved building, but was lower than its neighbour on the east in line with the “stepping down” in height due to the natural fall of the land.

The report said the design with two “gables” at either side respected the Victorian Villa style in the conservation area. It said the proposed number of parking spaces met the policy in the Local Plan.

Eight councillors on Torbay Council’s planning committee backed a recommendation from officers for conditional approval of the application from Dr Michel Jordan.

Only Cllr Terry Manning voted against, saying he felt it was too high and too big, and did not provide enough parking. He said the stability of the land needed to be investigated before any plan was approved.

At the meeting  the committee added a condition for an engineering survey to be carried out before construction following questions about stability of the cliff.

Paul Wyman, speaking on behalf of a number of objectors, said they opposed the height, scale and mass of the building.

Mr Wyman described the plans as “overbearing” and “completely out of kilter” with the character and appearance of the area. He urged the committee to reject the scheme and ask for one floor to be removed to reduce its height.

Dr Rodney Horder, of the Torquay Neighbourhood Forum, said it was not against development, but objected to the proposals on the grounds of height, parking and stability of the ground. He questioned why there had been no investigation into the stability of the land.

Architect Chris Kenny said the approach was to improve on the previously approved scheme. The double-gabled frontage was in line with the villa style of the area, and the design left  gaps on either side for coastal views.

The building was set back compared to the original hotel, and there was an improvement in parking from the previous plans.

Mr Kenny said that the size was “critical” to the current scheme and reducing the number of flats meant it would not go ahead.

Councillor Cordelia Law said residents did not object to the principle of building on the site, but were opposed to the height and scale and the amount of parking.

Cllr Jack Dart welcomed the development of the site, describing the plans as “good-looking modern building”.

He said: “Building homes is really important to the sustainability and future of the bay.”

He added: “My view is that this is a good development for this site.”

Cllr Jackie Thomas, who proposed approving the scheme, said it would see the redevelopment of a ‘brownfield’ site in a prime location. She said: “We need to breathe new life into this area.”