Compromise needed if we are to celebrate a touch of harbourside success for a change

Torbay Weekly

Looks like being a tale of two or three stories for the Torquay harbourside area.

Last week I revealed the sad demise of Maggie & Co, the top ladies fashion store who were closing their harbour store after 48 years in the town.

It leaves the potential of another gaping hole along one of the most precious landmark locations in the Bay.  Debenhams, Boots and the HSBC have all left their harbourside homes.

Torbay Council could see the writing was on the wall for Debenhams and bought the property so it could have more control of its destiny

The plan is to eventually demolish the buildings and replace them with a regeneration project comprising a mix of apartments and food and drink outlets.

It would all fit very neatly in with the overall plan to breathe new life into Torquay town centre with the £22 million Town Deal funding, and will also include a general facelift for The Strand area.

More good news for the area comes with the reported arrival of two new businesses on the harbourside.

Fast food giant Taco Bell is hoping to open an outlet at the former Boots building.

The Mexican-inspired US food chain has applied to the council for change of use planning permission.

Coincidentally, I was in Barnstaple on business the other week and enjoyed a coffee at the lovely Boston Tea Party so it is great to hear that they are planning to move into the former Pizza Express building on the harbour, creating 30 new jobs. It is planned to open its Torquay 160-café at the end of the year.

It is just what the harbour area needs at this moment and will be music to the ears to the Hampton by Hilton Holtel in Torwood Street, the being-built Premier Inn and other new and old businesses who rely on a vibrant harbour and waterfront area

Torwood Street – now that is another story.

While we are all celebrating a new dawn for the street it faces closure for months!

The council has announced it will be closed in both directions for three months in the New Year - from the Clocktower to the lights at the junction of Parkhill Road and The Terrace to be precise – with work due to start on January 6

The council says the street needs a full reconstruction, adding the scheme had been due to take place two years ago.

“We cannot delay it any longer, and if we did the work will take longer and will be more expensive. The pavements on both sides of the road will still be open and people will still have access to all the businesses,” said a spokesman.
Traders, led by the ever-tenacious Torquay Chamber of Trade chairman Susie Colley, are not happy.

I don’t think anybody is arguing about the need for the repair work and the council is really faced with a no-win situation. The traders are just looking for some kind of compromise.

The council has now organised a Facebook Live event to deal with concerns on Thursday evening at 6pm …

Not sure that will do the trick but I suppose in the current Covid world in which we live there is little option.

Just don’t want to ruin the success story that Torwood Street has become