Building a sense of community in Torbay is a key priority

Inside the Paignton Picture House with seats all facing down to the screen

Paignton Picture House - Credit: Paignton Picture House Trust

The coronavirus pandemic has tested us all, but the commitment and creativity demonstrated by so many organisations and local people in helping others in need has been overwhelming.

Even with the challenges that our organisations have faced, a spirit of stronger and deeper partnerships has been developed that will endure long beyond the pandemic.

Our community and voluntary sectors have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid -19 emergency.

We heard many of their stories in our second virtual Community Conference last year. Building a sense of community in Torbay is a key priority so that our regeneration is not just about building back better, but building stronger, more inclusive communities.

Although 2021 promises hard graft in suppressing Covid in our communities, there is lots to look forward to.

Two new vaccines are being rolled out and with them, in the long term, the expectation of controlling the virus.

However, our short-term objective of staying at home to reach that objective must remain at the forefront of our minds.

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Our communities in Torbay have done very well at keeping case numbers down locally.

We are one of the lowest areas nationally for infections, but as they shoot up across the UK we must be resolute in our efforts at suppression.

We are also driving forward plans with our local communities to improve our economy and town centres.

The council’s planning committee has approved the redevelopment of Crossways shopping centre, subject to  a number of planning conditions and responses from Highways and Natural England.

This is a major milestone and moves us one step closer to removing this eyesore and developing a key area in Paignton.

On Boxing Day we learnt that Torbay Council’s bid for Future High Streets funding had been successful to the tune of £13 million.

This will help to drive positive change in areas such as Station Square, Crossways and Paignton Picture House.

Furthermore, there’s a huge amount of public and private investment being ploughed into the town, including two new hotels, Claylands and investment in sea defences.

In Brixham, we have placed a bid for enablement monies for us to unlock the Central car park so that it can be released for regeneration of the town centre. We will know about this funding by the end of February. 

The exterior of Torquay Pavilion

Torquay Pavilion - Credit: Submitted

In Torquay, almost £22m of funding through the Town Deal will bring about significant change in key locations, including Torquay Pavilion and a new railway station at Edginswell.

This is in addition to the Torwood Street development and the Premier Inn on part of the Terrace Car Park. These projects will bring long term benefits to the town centre, to businesses and to the community.

Working with the TDA we have also bought the building housing the Debenhams store on Torquay harbour.

This will give us more control over the future of this prime site as we progress plans to transform our town centres.

It will ensure that we are the master of our own destiny, not standing on the side-lines wringing our hands trying to prevent this building from becoming another blot on our landscape.

Our retail and hospitality industries have really suffered during the pandemic.

Although we can’t predict future lockdown restrictions, we can help support local businesses who have been badly hit.

Along with the TDA, we’ve been helping retailers and other businesses in Torbay to operate in a Covid-secure way.

Christmas shopping and festivities also create a lot of waste, so if you have still got cardboard, chocolate tins or Christmas trees in your home then please recycle as much of it as possible.

There’s lots of information on where and how you can recycle your festive rubbish on the Torbay Council Christmas website.

Let’s direct our first steps into the new year towards creating a better planet and supporting our local areas and businesses to help Torbay thrive.