As a number of you will know, I spent months of my life trying to improve parking in the Torwood Street area, and all that was achieved was one more place. Hugely frustrating.
Now, of course, it has all been dug up so, you would think, that this would be the ideal time to totally re-think the parking situation and embrace a few radical ideas to improve life for business, residents, tourists and shoppers.
Experience has now taught me not to hold my breath.
If you have seen the plans for the new layout for the Strand redevelopment, you will have seen that, as normal, there is an obsession with pedestrian walkways and yet the majority of Torbay’s inhabitants are elderly, and many can’t walk very far.
Maybe the intention is to cull a few of the older generation!
Added to this, Torbay seems to attract the older tourist these days and it is unfriendly at best, not to welcome those who have travelled here in cars.
We do not live in a balmy climate, and it can be brutal walking around the harbour in the winter.
I just don’t get it; the pedestrian areas and walkways seem perfectly adequate to me.
In my opinion and experience, you get far more footfall for restaurants and retail if you have adequate parking close by.
For many, it is a hike too far to leg it from the Marina car park to Torwood Street.
With the planned increase of retail, restaurants and residential flats for the area around the clock tower, parking is even more necessary for people to enjoy the harbour area and what it offers.
Torwood Street is just not the Rue d’Antibes, where you can actually park down all the side streets and where commerce is king.
A very similar plan for ‘rejuvenation’ of the Torbay Road area in Paignton has now been unveiled.
This will create another ghost area unless there is abundant adjacent parking.
These massive pedestrian areas create the perfect environment for gangs to hang out.
We already suffer from unprecedented anti-social behaviour and rough sleeping problems in Torbay and this proposed development will encourage them to flourish.
It may all look good on paper where the plans show illustrations of a hive of activity with families enjoying lots of retail therapy and restaurants – sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
These are just an artist’s impression and a pipe dream.
How many can still afford, or even want to, open a new business?
The problem is that when the tourists are not here, businesses have to rely on local support.
This is a major problem as the locals, in general, do not have a mass of disposable income.
So wouldn’t it be better to allow cars to park outside shops and for the council to benefit from revenue from parking meters?
It is a proven fact that you can’t increase footfall without easy parking.
There are ghostlike and soulless pedestrian precincts all over the country, so why are we going backwards instead of forwards in our thinking?
One way or another, cars or ‘personal’ transport will be here forever, and not everyone is able to get on their bike.
So please, please just think about the motorist who is craving to go shopping followed by a lovely lunch in one of our lovely eateries.
We want to spend money and support our local businesses, but sometimes it is just too difficult.
On another subject, I am currently in the middle of moving house and all that entails, so my humour is tested as I am up to my ears in packing cases.
We have all been through it, and I am always positive that I can handle it, but I have to admit that I am beginning to feel my age with all the aches and pains that are very evident after only a couple of hours of sorting through all my ‘stuff’.
I have always been a shocking hoarder, but I am full of good intentions.
I do imagine though that by the end of next week they may have withered somewhat, and a load of rubbish will also be transported to the new property.
Either way, if I go out, I won’t be going anywhere I can’t park easily!
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