My latest Kev's column for the Torbay Times is published this week in which I take a look at the suggestion Torquay's Pavilion should be moved to an island in the Habour:
The reopening of the Banjo after its recent improvement work saw the seafront of Torquay take a turn for the better and now all eyes are on the Pavilion as a developer brings forward proposals to create a new Hotel incorporating it.
The Pavilion’s current setting, against the concrete expanse of the Marina Car Park, does nothing to enhance the view, or likely commercial attraction, of it as a building. A Planning Application due to be submitted later this year would see the current car park demolished, a luxury hotel and apartments built, with the Pavilion refurbished as part of it.
The first images of what the development may look like were published recently. It is safe to say further discussions will be needed to create a development that will look great for the next forty years and to protect neighbouring Cary Green, but the overall principle of the project is sound and will bring a large amount of investment into the bay.
Yet the headlines have been taken by what is being described as a “Community Plan B”, to dismantle the Pavilion and rebuild it on a man-made island in the centre of Torquay Harbour. An idea some local residents want to promote as an alternative to the plan being discussed by developers with the Council.
I am only too pleased to see people coming up with their own imaginative ideas, yet this one strikes me as a non-starter that could actually endanger the Pavilion if adopted as policy. Leaving aside the financial and logistical issues creating a man-made island and moving the Pavilion would bring is this really something that would be desirable? Concreting a large chunk of the historic harbour, then building bridges across it, would totally alter the whole essence of the place itself.
In short the plan would effectively mean completely filling in the old Harbour and removing the waterfront at the heart of Torquay. I cannot see this resulting in an improved look for the area and it could do real damage to the businesses surrounding it. My fear is that the lack of any financial reality to the suggestion means that if it became the preferred option it would result in the Pavilion being left to rot and decay even further due to it not going ahead.
Let’s think as a community about how we want to develop the bay, but we need to keep it real.