How the homes at Tweenaway Cross will look.

Tweenaway movement at last but where will all the other new homes go? - Jim Parker

Jim Parker

Fetch out the bubbly, raise the flags or simply shout Hallelujah. Yep, the horrid site at Tweenaway Cross which has been home for sad and disgraceful derelict houses for many years is finally being transformed into a new homes development.

No, I have not been hallucinating in the heat, something is at last being done to rid us of the eyesore that has been there for all to see – including thousands of impressionable holidaymakers at one of the busiest road junctions in the Bay.

Classic Builders has been appointed to develop nine affordable rental homes including one adapted home at the Totnes Road location.

Based in Plymouth, Exeter and Cornwall, Classic Builders is an award winning company that has experience in both residential and commercial developments.

Work on the site has started with completion due in April next year. The development will provide much needed affordable housing for local people. The homes will be fitted with a heating source non reliant on fossil fuels. This project will be TorVista Homes first new build project after it was awarded Registered Provider status by the Regulator for Social Housing.

Torbay Council leader Steve Darling said: “We are delighted that work is back underway to deliver these much needed homes that meet the needs of local people. As the site is ready for development, we look forward to seeing the homes rise out of the ground. These homes will support our Housing Strategy and contribute to our vision of becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030.”

Deputy leader Darren Cowell added: “By appointing a South West-based business, we’re able to support our local and regional supply chain, further ensuring these homes have a positive environmental impact. The challenges in the construction sector have slightly delayed these homes becoming available, we are now confident that these homes will be ready and available by spring 2023.”

Rick Williams, Chair of TorVista Homes, said: “We want to build, safe, quality affordable homes to support and create communities and neighbourhoods where people choose to live. We are thrilled that Classic Builders are helping us to deliver our first new build project, contributing to our vision of delivering around 350 new homes within Torbay over the next five years.”

Adam Brimblecombe, for Classic Builders, said; “We are committed to delivering safe and environmentally conscious buildings, and are therefore pleased to have been appointed to deliver this important project.”

The properties will be advertised through Devon Home Choice in due course.

TorVista Homes Limited is part of TDA Group, which is a wholly owned company of Torbay Council.

It plans to deliver a range of different affordable housing products including, temporary accommodation, Extra Care housing, older persons housing and general needs for social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership.

But the  next problem with delivering all these homes is where?

The figure of building 350 has just been mentioned. But the government has made it clear they want to see 700-plus A YEAR!

Is there a danger of having to give up some precious sites for new homes? Even green sites? Could developments  be higher?

Options for how Torbay could continue to address a housing crisis it currently faces are likely to go out for further public consultation this autumn.

Cabinet members are being asked to agree that a minimum six-week period of public consultation on the next stage of the Local Plan begins in September. Torbay’s Local Plan shows how Torquay, Paignton and Brixham will grow over the coming years and this update focuses on providing housing. Consultation took place at the beginning of the year to determine which of the growth options put forward by officers were most acceptable.

On the basis of the government’s methodology, Torbay needs 600 to 720 new homes a year. Cabinet are set to challenge the government’s method for calculating how many homes are needed, as it believes the methodology fails to take account the significant environmental impact delivering this volume of homes will have. Despite this, there is a significant demand for affordable homes in Torbay.

Now the council is looking at halving the government target to 300 homes per year, seeking to balance the affordable housing need alongside the environmental impact.

With a shortfall of at least 300 each year, the recommendation is that Torbay will have to ask neighbouring councils to help meet the same.

The consultation sets out a proposal to focus upon regenerating brownfield sites and promoting intensified development in town centre and waterfront locations, including the need for taller and more dense delivery in areas like Torquay town centre, harbourside and waterfront, and in Paignton and Brixham town centres.

The proposal also sets out that some greenfield sites should be considered to meet the demand for affordable housing, but it seeks to protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Brixham. There is also the recognition of the need for two transit pitches for travellers.

Cllr Darling says: “We’re in the midst of a housing crisis with a shortage of properties for a growing number of people who need temporary and permanent accommodation. We have more than 1,400 households on the council’s housing waiting list.

““We take this demand seriously and are doing all we can to find solutions. One of these is looking at how we manage the growth of new homes.

“The government targets are damaging to our environment, disregard the fact we are coastal and the targets are undeliverable. That’s why we are determined to lobby government to protect our Bay.

“As part of the next stage of consultation, residents will be asked which of the sites they think are suitable, balancing the need for addressing this urgent housing demand with environmental concerns.”

Mike Morey, cabinet member for infrastructure and environment, said: “The consultation will seek views on which of the sites or clusters of sites are acceptable to bring forward.  It’s vital we get feedback from members of the public. We had more than 1,500 responses when we carried out our first round of consultation on this plan earlier this year.

“Having a place to call home matters to everyone and we need your input to find the right balance in Torbay.”

Torbay MP Kevin Foster is clear what needs to happen – and lobbying the government is not one option  as far as he is concerned.

He writes in his column this week: “The rather confused press release from the council stating it wants to lobby the Government to only create 300 new homes a year, but at the same time says there is a housing crisis and 1,400 affordable homes needed by those on the waiting list now.

“No Minister is likely to take seriously lobbying where on the one hand a council says it desperately needs 1,400 new homes to address its current waiting list, then on the other says the Government should let it take years to build them and is asking for too much housing.”

Mr Foster says that he has approached the new housing minister for a meeting to give a more ‘factual and consistent view on how planning policy could support our bay, including making it easier to release long derelict brownfield sites’.

“He has agreed and we hope to get a meeting in shortly,” says the MP.

A serious dilemma is approaching and has been coming for a while. We have an acute housing crisis. Hundreds are on the housing waiting list, the Bay will grow as regeneration takes place and that will mean new job – and new homes  being needed somewhere.

Councillors have some tough decisions to make. They are bound to have one eye on next May’s local elections and the danger of losing votes.

Who would want to be a councillor? Still, at least we’ve sorted Tweenaway at long last!