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Former bay mayor attacks Torquay Harbourside plans

Thursday, 29 February 2024 17:51

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Artist's impression of the Torquay Strand Public Realm (Torbay Council)

'Totally unnecessary and there are other priorities' - Gordon Oliver

Roadworks causing long delays around Torquay harbourside have been blasted as ‘totally unnecessary and a waste of public money’.

The works, which have seen long queues at temporary traffic lights on some of Torbay’s busiest streets, are part of a major project to revamp the Strand.

When the project finishes later this year the current road will be cut by half, opening up a wide harbourside boulevard for pedestrians.

But former elected mayor of Torbay Gordon Oliver says businesses on the Strand are being crippled right now. And he says signature palm trees planted during his time in office from 2011 to 2019 are being cut down.

“There are other greater priorities in Torquay,” he said. “Some improvements could have been carried out, but not to take two lanes out of use on a major coastal road.”

And, he said, the £4 million harbourside improvements scheme had not taken into account rising sea levels caused by climate change, which could swamp the harbourside area in decades to come.

But the biggest issue around the current roadworks is the effect on harbourside businesses, he believes. “They are having great problems down there. I am getting a lot of negative comments from traders who are feeling the effects of this work, he said.

“The traders don’t seem to be getting any help at the moment. Some of them are in an absolute panic. They feel their businesses are going to be ruined.”

He said the revamp, coupled with the demolition of the former Debenhams store for redevelopment, would mean further problems.

“There seems to be no consideration for the time of year that these works are being undertaken,” he said. “Tied in with this road alteration is the demolition of Debenhams, which I understand will take seven months.

“The Strand is to be closed for the whole of May and the whole of June in both directions, but there is no guarantee that the road will be closed for two months only.

“Would it not have been better to have undertaken the demolition first and not combine the road scheme and the demolition at the same time?”

Mr Oliver also fears the new road layout will create ‘gridlock’ on the busy harbourside when it is finished.

But Torbay Council’s deputy leader Cllr Chris Lewis (Con, Preston) believes the scheme will transform the harbourside. He said: “This has been on the cards for a long time, and it will make the area down by the harbour a really attractive place for residents, businesses and holidaymakers.

“It is going to create a real promenade going along to the harbour. The whole of this part of Torquay is going to be regenerated and it will be a fantastic place to visit.”

The council has said it will keep disruption to a minimum.

The project which has been made possible after the council secured £21.9 million of Town Deal Funding from the government.

The remaining phases of the work are:

Until May

The Strand will be reduced to a single lane of traffic, traffic management measures will be in operation at the Torwood Street, Victoria Parade, and Strand junctions.

May to July

Full closure of the Strand to all traffic for approximately eight weeks. Diversionary routes will be in place. During this phase the biggest changes to the road layout will be made.

July to August

Road closure will be lifted, and traffic will be able to pass through the Strand using the new layout. Cary Parade will be reduced to a single lane running in both directions.

September

Final surfacing and finishing works including the installation of a new statue of Agatha Christie.

 

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