The Strand, one of the best urban public spaces in the Bay is about to become a more vibrant, healthier and better-connected space.
Using £2.2m of the £21.9m of funding secured through the Town Deal in the autumn of 2020, works to regenerate the Strand are set to begin during the early part of 2022.
This exciting milestone marks the start of Torquay and Torbay’s once in a generation period of transformation.
Torquay’s community partners including Torbay Together, business owners, residents representing a range of ages and abilities and key transport users have been instrumental in the development of the design of the new look Strand. Through creative engagement which started in 2018, the overall message received throughout the consultation process was ‘The Strand needs to be a safe, well-connected space that’s an inviting place to relax and enjoy’.
Using this feedback, designers presented a number of options for the community to consider before a final decision on the future look and feel of the space were made.
The final design means a significant number of improvements and enhancements will be made to transform the space.
Upon completion of the works which are due to last throughout 2022, Torquay residents and visitors can expect to see; minimised traffic on the Strand, increased and enhanced pedestrian areas, improved connectivity and space for pop-up events such as food festivals and music events.
To enable the space to be more pedestrian friendly, the highway will be reduced to one lane in either direction, with a right-hand turn introduced for buses at the bottom of Fleet Street. Instead of travelling along the Strand and looping around the Clock Tower, most buses will divert to a new public transport hub on Cary Parade. This means for the first time since the 1900s, pedestrians will be able to safely walk up to and enjoy the Clock Tower.
New seating, planting, lighting, signage and a special Agatha Christie arts commission will also be installed creating a fully accessible, high quality and usable space.
Cllr Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said; “I’d like to thank all of our community partners who have worked with us to shape how the Strand will look and feel as we move into 2022 and beyond. These significant improvements will allow more people to enjoy and interact with the space all year round whether that be on foot or by bike. There will be more opportunities for local residents to get involved and help shape future plans as we move forward with more and more projects over the next 12-months.”
Cllr Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing for Torbay Council, said; “For a long time we’ve talked about improving our town centres and public spaces, and now we’re at the point of our shared vision becoming a reality. The Strand project is the catalyst for many more projects that will be taking place in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham over the next few years. By investing in and improving our town centres, we’re not only creating great places but we’re opening up more investment and employment opportunities.”
Vince Flower, Chair of the Torquay Town Board, said; “This is an incredibly exciting milestone for Torquay and its overall Town Investment Plan. Through the Town Investment Plan our goal is to create a high quality, vibrant town centre, better connected and more accessible places and a high-quality economy. This project does just that. The Strand and the immediate area is one of our key priority areas. We’re already seeing more investment coming into Torquay as a result of our plan with new businesses opening up in the not-too-distant future, offering not only employment opportunities but more choice to residents and visitors.”
Julie Brandon, Community Lead, Town Deal Community Board said; “The Community are delighted to see the Strand regeneration project coming forward. It represents the first major project that will deliver on aspirations in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan area, providing significant public realm improvements, a catalyst for events and recreation, and recognising the role that art and culture have to play as part of enhancing our open spaces.”
The Strand is one of several projects, set to benefit from investment from the Town Fund.
This is an exciting time for Torbay with a range of multi-million-pound projects in the pipeline to make spaces where people can thrive. These include £13.36m for the Future High Street Fund for Paignton and £7.8m awarded from Network Rail for a new train station in the Edginswell area. There are also plans to enhance Brixham in line with the Brixham Peninsula Neighbourhood Plan with key areas earmarked including Harbour regeneration and Brixham Town Centre car park which received a share of £1m secured through the Brownfield Land Release Fund.