Prospect of a new future is enough to make you want to can-can around the table!
- Credit: Torbay Council
It is easy to throw around adjectives like ‘once-in-a-lifetime' or once-in-a-generation' without anything to back up such bold statements.
But – and it is not the first time I have said this – Torbay truly is at the crossroads when it comes to the dawn of a new future.
Torbay’s cabinet could see that for themselves as some of the wrapping came of the details of how £22million from the government’s Town Deal funding for Torquay should be spent.
They were asked to approve business cases for the main elements of the massive regeneration programme which will transform the high street and give it new life.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the town at the so-called Gateway to Torquay, another new project was emerging adding more fuel to the new-beginning fire.
Five major projects were on the cabinet table with the rubber-stamped business cases going off to the government for final funding approval.
The prominent former Debenhams building will be redeveloped with homes, small businesses and restaurants in a £2million scheme.
Securing the future of the Pavilion, with refurbishment and a residential development, is another scheme which could cost £10million, shared by the council and the leaseholder Marina Developments Limited. Around £1.75m from the Town Deal money will also be used.
Improvements at the GPO roundabout are planned at a cost of around £250,000.
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Improved infrastructure will create safe walking and cycling routes from the harbour and along the prom and will cost just over £1million.
The biggest project is the actual regeneration of the town centre, including bringing in other uses rather than retail. That could cost £40million, and investment will be needed from the private and public sectors. The Town Deal funds would contribute £11million.
In a statement the council said: “We want Torbay and its residents to thrive. We want Torbay to be a place where we have turned the tide on poverty and tackled inequalities; where our children and older people will have high aspirations and where there are quality jobs, good pay, and affordable housing for our residents. We want Torbay to be the premier resort in the UK.£"
Back at the Gateway, a £250 million new Torbay Hospital complex will be taking shape over next few years, a new train station is being built at Edginswell, store giants Wickes are building a new outlet and the Kerswell roundabout will see new Aldi, Costa and KFC businesses.
Now, neatly slotting in with the new hospital, comes news of a new factory which the council will finance and build through its Growth Fund before handing over to a company making and researching new medical equipment
A report to the cabinet said the project would involve building a 2,100 sq m facility, with the potential to bring 100 new jobs to the Torbay, for an 'innovative, expanding and award winning company in the sector of research, training and production of energy based surgical systems'.
The company is currently based outside of Torbay and operate in the medical sector developing tools to assist with keyhole and open surgery.
It is currently based in a rural location which creates challenges for delivery/collection access and for its 57 employees.
The move to a new site in Torquay is anticipated to bring an additional 15/20 new jobs in addition to the current employees including research and development engineers, product assembly, engineering apprentices through South Devon College and business support roles in HR, finance, customer sales support, exporting and marketing.
The operation will also include a training suite for surgeons, doctors and nurses.
Council leader Steve Darling said: "This it undertakes the training of consultants and senior nurses who will be using the research equipment.
“It helps our tourist industry by filling hotel rooms for people coming from across England and from around the world who use the medical equipment.
“We need to improve the tourist industry but it is also about having that backbone of all-year-round dependable jobs."
He recognises we are on the cusp of something big in the Bay, adding: “It is important that we take the community with us on the journey and make sure we are doing this for our young people and they know we have a vibrant, fit-for-purpose town and there is no need for them to move away.
“It’s really exciting. It’s for our children that we are doing this.”
Cllr Darling said his regeneration man, Cllr Swithin Long, was over the moon with the potential new firm at Edginswell and things generally.
He said: "Cllr Long wants to do the can-can around the table because it is what we really need."
Now that would be once-in-a-lifetime,. #nowisthetime2