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Why iconic Torquay Pavilion must be restored

Thursday, 15 February 2024 08:18

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Torquay Pavilion (Image: Guy Henderson)

Council moves to regain control of listed 'treasure'

Torquay’s seafront Pavilion deserves the same protection as some of the world’s most famous landmarks, councillors have been told.

Torbay Council’s deputy leader Chris Lewis (Con, Preston) told members of the powerful cabinet committee: “America has its Statue of Liberty, France has the Eiffel Tower and London has Nelson’s Column.

“The Pavilion is Torbay’s iconic building, and it must be returned to its former glory.”

The committee voted unanimously to take back the lease on the Grade Two-listed former theatre from current holders Marina Developments Ltd (MDL), and to seek new investors to bring it back into use.

The building first opened in 1912 and operated as a theatre until the mid-1970s. After that it became an ice rink and later a shopping complex 

The Pavilion has been falling into disrepair since it became vacant in 2013. MDL’s lease on it was designed to run until 2084.

The council and MDL have been unable to agree on who should pay for repairs, leading to what council officers describe as a ‘stalemate’. Councillors heard that restoration work could begin by late summer, but more investment would be needed.

No future use has yet been specified for the Pavilion, but the council has previously considered  culture, food and drink, heritage and leisure uses. An ambitious scheme which would have seen the Pavilion becoming the ‘front of house’ for a giant new hotel was rejected after years of wrangling.

“It is a much-loved building that has been neglected for many, many years,” said Cllr Lewis. “It is important to get it back into council hands.

“It is a listed building and it is loved by all. It is an iconic building that needs to be saved for future generations.”

Cllr Nick Bye (Con, Wellswood) added: “We would all simply like to see the Pavilion brought back to life to fulfill its role as part of the life of the town.

“This is about everyone working together to get the Pavilion back into use.”

Cllr Bye said his grandmother had been there on the theatre’s opening night, and added: “I very much hope to be around when it does come back into use.”

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