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Torquay Debenhams store to be demolished soon

Friday, 2 February 2024 08:29

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Here's what the Strand could look like soon (Image: Torbay Council)

Date set for start of harbourside project

Work to demolish the abandoned Debenhams store on Torquay harbourside will begin in the spring.

Confirmation came from Torbay Council officers at a meeting of the Town Deal Board, which has been set up to monitor major projects across the bay. Funding of £22 million has been received from the government as part of its nationwide ‘Town Deal’ initiative.

The board drew up the original investment plan to bid for funds from the government.

Torbay Council is now working with recently appointed development partners Willmott Dixon and Milligan on preparations to develop key sites.

The meeting heard that work is underway with demolition specialists Wrings Group to plan pulling down the former Debenhams store which was abandoned by the retail giant in 2021. The building is owned by the council.

Contractors aim to work with the current harbourside ‘public realm’ development to keep disruption to a minimum. There are plans to build 16 flats and a retail space on the site of the old Debenhams.

The meeting also heard updates on a number of other key projects in the bay.

The council bought the Union Square shopping centre off Torquay’s Union Street in 2022, and it will be the largest and most ambitious of the projects, with £11 million earmarked for a redevelopment which will mix homes, shops and restaurants.

The board says it will change the way town centre operates and could bring more homes, jobs, and footfall.

More information on the options and timescales is due in the spring.

Board chairman Vince Flower said: “Our work is now entering an important and exciting phase, with work started or due to start on four of the six key projects this year.

“All the board members are acutely aware of how long this whole process appears to be taking but we are dealing with spending significant amounts of public money, and it is vitally important that all the appropriate procedures are followed before any work commences.”

He said the pandemic and soaring inflation had slowed the schemes, but “real progress” was now being made.

He added: “This promises to be a pivotal year in terms of delivery and we look forward to making significant progress, improving and regenerating Torquay town centre.”

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