Jim Parker: Iconic buildings being brought back to life - but what will be future use?
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It would seem some of our sleeping giants are slowly but surely being brought back to life. I am referring to some of the Bay’s landmark, iconic and historic buildings.
Confirmation came this week of crucial and important developments in the future of the Pavilion and the Riviera International Conference Centre (OK not exactly historic but landmark and game-changing considering the millions of taxpayers' cash poured into the seafront complex over the years).
Torbay Council, through its economic development company TDA, is working with lease-holder Marina Developments Ltd to develop a scheme to fully restore the Pavilion.
The first stage will be carrying out a survey to see what repairs are actually needed to make the building fit for purpose and then agree and find a future use for it.
A council spokesman said: “Ultimately a full restoration will include the repair of the inherent defects of this strategically important building and a programme of refurbishment that will see the building bought back into use in a way which supports the regeneration of the harbour area.”
Council deputy leader Darren Cowell said: “The repairs will be significant to make it fit for purpose.”
But what will be its future use?
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Cllr Cowell says: “It needs to have a viable option. It could be a mixed-use covering art, culture and leisure.”
He adds: "I think the days of ice rinks are gone. And you would have to sell a lot of clotted cream for tea rooms and cream teas.”
What about taking full advantage of our Queen of Crime and having an Agatha Christie centre? Or dare I mention the word casino – a very upmarket casino, of course.
And talking about mentioning the unmentionable – what about some residential development to help finance any refurbishment and regeneration project?
Cllr Cowell says: “Cary Green will not be part of it. That is a protected green space. I have always supported the principle of using the car park in a beneficial way. It is a car park with home of the best views in the world.
“Any potential development of the car park will be similar to the buildings already on Vaughan Parade. It is not going to be a tower block which was the real challenge for people previously.”
So, once the survey and repairs are sorted, the Pavilion site will be marketed. Movement at last.
And over at the RICC?
It has been revealed that Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading leisure facilities operators and who currently run the Clennon Valley sports and leisure centre in Paignton, has won the contract to manage the RICC.
As part of a new 25-year agreement, which begins on April 1, the centre will benefit from £1.4million of improvements and upgrades over the coming months, including a new reception, refurbished gym fitted out with state-of-the art Life Fitness equipment, virtual spin studio, as well as a high and low ropes adventure course overlooking the sea on what was run-down tennis courts at the front of the building.
Cllr Cowell, who is also in charge of finances, says: “The requirement for subsidies from the local authority will be a thing of the past.
“It needs to break even and not need the millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.
“I have always said it is a valuable site.”
At last, some movement.
Over in Paignton likewise. Oldway Mansion now has the council and community working together for the future.
The gardens are being brought back to their best. Tea rooms are open and there is talk of lottery funding applications to look at a major regeneration project.
Boutique hotel, some residential but public gardens and access? Just throwing it out there.
Then you have the Paignton Picture House being restored to its former glory thanks to the hard work of a trust.
Have a guess who was one of the most famous patrons there in days gone by? Dame Agatha...