A £2milllion master plan to transform Occombe Farm into a unique year-round attraction will start next month

A £2million master plan to regenerate Occombe Farm will start next month, it has been announced.

The Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust says the refurbishment and extension of the Occombe Farm Café completed the first phase of the project and enough funding is now in place to begin work on phase two.

They say that whilst there is still a shortfall in finances, they are confident that with continued fundraising, the full scheme can be delivered by next summer.

Occombe’s redevelopment will be funded through a combination of loan finance, provided by Torbay Council via the Economic Growth Fund, a grant from Garfield Weston Foundation, several legacies and donations and TCCT funds.

Other grants have also been applied for, the outcomes of which are expected soon. It is hoped that local community support will help raise the last £10,000 to finance delivery of the whole project.

Incorporated in the regeneration plan will be a mix of indoor and outdoor play and activities alongside a much larger farm shop, providing a year-round destination.

The existing farm shop will be extended and refitted to create a 450 sq m area, three times the current size.

There will be an emphasis on local produce and is intended to provide in excess of 6,000 products. This farm shop extension will provide Occombe Farm Café with a new, much larger terrace above, with room for 80 additional covers.

The farm visitor attraction will incorporate a new indoor play barn. Working with local natural play specialists, Earth Wrights, of Dartington, TCCT say they will deliver a distinctive and inspirational play experience for children, based on exploration, nature and discovery.

Katie Swan, Head of Client Services, Earth Wrights said: “Earth Wrights believes children deserve imaginative, natural play spaces where they can explore and experiment in free-flowing and self-directed ways. We are incredibly excited to use the outstanding natural environment and heritage of Torbay as inspiration to create unique and magical play spaces at Occombe Farm.”

A massive ‘Jumping Pillow’ - designed in Denmark - has been sourced for the outdoor play area.

Visitors will be able to follow a self-guided trail, taking in the Animal Experience Barn (with opportunities for animal handling and feeding) and the Rare Breeds Trail with animal paddocks, outdoor play features and fun interactive activities for children.

A huge emphasis will be placed on making the new Occombe accessible. The trails have been designed with low gradients in order to be wheelchair accessible, with an intention to incorporate sensory and accessible play features throughout.

It is anticipated that the new Occombe enterprise will create up to 60 full and part time new jobs. Recruitment for key roles will begin imminently.

The TCCT will also continue to fundraise to deliver phase three of the Occombe Project too. A large community barn with studios and further extensions to the outdoor play facilities are key aspects of this final phase.

Damian Offer, Chief Executive of TCCT, said: “We are really excited to begin work on phase two. The new Occombe enterprise will provide funding for TCCT to invest in making land better across Torbay for wildlife and people and reduce reliance on Council funding.

“On behalf of TCCT I would like to thank Torbay Council for helping finance this project in order to create such a great new amenity for Torbay.”

Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council said: “Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust fulfil a very important role of protecting and enhancing a lot of what makes Torbay special. In light of this I am delighted that we can come to an arrangement to give them access to the cheaper borrowing the Council can utilise.

“This project will have a number of positive outcomes including additional funding for TCCT which will enable their long-term viability, more local jobs and a new attraction for the Bay.”