At Torquay Neighbourhood Forum we're always busy!

Read the latest news below and find out how you can have your say…

 Latest News

Embracing 15 Minute Cities

Why has the ‘15-minute city’ taken off in Paris but become a controversial idea in the UK?

What is inappropriate development?

It seems that Torbay is not alone when it comes to proposed alterations to properties that neighbours consider will affect the integrity and visual appearance of their neighbourhoods.

Cornwall planning: Seaside villagers say plan for ‘McMansion’ beggars belief

 

Concers over lack of planning enforcement to be raised at Overview and Scrutiny March 2024

We are pleased to see that Cllr George Darling has requested an item be considered by the Board regarding lack of enforcemnt by Torbay Council Planning Department. The Forum are aware of other sites not mentioned in the request where there appesr to be inconsistencies or no action being taken, concerns we have also raised with the Council. (see concerns around the Planning Process below)

Councillor Call for Action – Planning Enforcement March 2024

Less than 20% of town regeneration projects completed in England, figures show

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2024/mar/03/fewer-than-20-levelling-up-projects-completed-england-figures

Planning Dilemma

P/2023/0868 | Demolition of vacant hotel and construction of 14 apartments with associated landscaping works. | Hotel Virginia Falkland Road Torquay TQ2 5JH

Anyone attending or watching the planning committee on 4th March would have seen how councillors of all parties wrested with the application before them. Debate around the desirability of homes on a brownfield site were weighed against the heritage harm given that the owner/developer was seeking a full demolition on the grounds that the building was in a parlous state.

The forum had concurred with Historic England that the building was a heritage asset, and that conversion of the existing building would be preferable. The owner and their architect argued that the property was beyond restoration.

After much debate the committee refused the application. (The meeting can be viewed on the Council’s You Tube Channel)

We have latterly been delving a little more into this application as the owner may come back with a revised scheme or they may decide to appeal the decision. In light of the following, we feel that the correct decision was made on 4th March and would hope that the Committee stand firm in their resolve.

 Devon Live Article November 2021

https://www.devonlive.com/whats-on/whats-on-news/quirky-torquay-hotel-sold-ambitious-6277781

This articles indicates that as recently as 2021 the hotel was still being operated as a going concern, getting above average reviews and indicates the intent of the new owner to continue to operate it as a Hotel:

‘The size and location of the site, along with future potential, was the determining factor for the purchasers, who are looking forward to investing in the site ready for a busy 2022 season.’

Marketed at £550K one assumes that the buyer would have had a full survey done on the property? Surely there cannot have been any major problems given the relatively short period of time for the refurbishment referenced in the article in readiness for the following season.

If the building is now in as bad a state as was indicated at the Planning meeting, one could be forgiven for concluding that this has all occurred under the new ownership. If there are now more significant works required to protect and preserve this heritage building it would seem they are entirely of the owners own making.

Much was made about immediate neighbour support for the application but it is no wonder that this should be the case given that in just a few years  the building has been allowed to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance and a failure to secure the site, and with all the associated problems that come with abandoned and neglected properties of anti-social behaviour, squatters etc, neighbours understandably want to see something done.

It seems a tactic employed far too often by developers and something that we feel should be resisted in order to preserve and protect our heritage assets.

 

Concerns around the Planning Process

The Planning Process has been a key topic of discussion at our Steering Group Meetings, and we have come up with a list of current concerns – see link.

Planning Concerns

We believe that there are a number of opportunities to improve the process so that we can all work together for Planning Applications to be processed smoothly, rapidly, fairly, and transparently.

We have requested that these are reviewed with officers and Councillors at a Neighbourhood Planning Group Meeting or a special meeting.

 

 

AGM 17th January 7 Pm

Join us in person next Wednesday 17th January, at the Hampton by Hilton Torquay from 7pm, for the Torquay Neighbourhood Forum Regeneration Update and AGM. A great opportunity to connect with fellow community members and get involved in shaping the future of our town.

We will have an update on Torquay Regeneration Projects from Alan Denby, Director of Pride in Place, Torbay Council, and a presentation on a Greener Way for our Bay by Rachel Geary, Climate Strategy and Project Officer, Torbay Council. We will share updates on ongoing projects and the refresh of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan. Your voice matters, so come and have your say!

Tea and Coffee provided. Cash bar. Free parking after 6pm on Torwood Street and Torwood Gardens Road or the Terrace Car Park £2.80 up to 2 hours, £4 up to 3 hours. Please access the hotel via the reception at 67 The Terrace.

Please book to join this free event via the following link. We can’t wait to see you there!

Eventbrite@ https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/torquay-neighbourhood-group-agm-tickets-796000447767?aff=oddtdtcreator

Palace Hotel Update January 2024 

We are grateful to Councillor Steve Darling for providing us with the following update: 

‘I have been chasing for almost a year now, the viability report for the Palace Hotel. I have just recently received the attached (see link to document) and sent the below email to council officers. 

I hope forum members find this of interest.’

 Email follows: 

‘You will no doubt recall that for almost 12 months now, I have been asking for a copy of the viability assessment in respect of the former Palace Hotel, Babbacombe Road, Torquay, and last week received the Savills report, dated February 2023, with elements of it redacted. 

I was disappointed with the assessment as it appears to carry more conjecture than facts. 

It also does not appear to include an assessment of developer return which one should include if you follow government guidance. Savills have simply outlined how much costs have gone up since the scheme was first approved. While costs of development have gone up, I would assert that the luxury hotel market is fairly recession proof (and evidence should be provided in any assessment) and that the rooms would be charged out at a higher rate than was, I assume, initially outlined in an original viability assessment. 

Furthermore, I am concerned Savills are making the wrong comparison with more mainstream provision in Torquay which has been recently completed or in the pipeline – you cannot compare a luxury hotel with the provision of a budget or more main stream hotels i.e. the Premier Inn, the Mercure or the Hampton by Hilton. A comparison would be better made with a luxury 5 star spa hotel, such as Boringdon Hall Hotel in Plymouth which is of comparable quality and recession proof.

In respect of section 2, the Local Pipeline, there is a concern of the ‘ability of the demand of the local market to absorb these bedrooms and maintain this occupancy and rate in the face of increased supply’ . This misinterprets Torbay’s Destination Management Plan, which is about driving up standards of accommodation in Torbay.

I also note that the Savills letter is dated February 2023 – I would welcome an explanation as to why it has taken so long for me to have sight of it.

With Savills providing such a poor viability assessment, I would welcome an explanation on why the local authority isn’t more robust on what to expect from viability assessments to avoid receiving similar reports of limited value.

Finally, what assurances can you give me that Torbay Council will robustly demand that the Fragrance Group reconsider providing the hotel development that was part of their original planning permission? 

I look forward to your response.’ 

The Forum concurs with this position and has also emailed the Chief Executive and Head of Planning stressing the position from the community that a hotel is developed on the site as per the consented permission in Planning Application, P/2019/0716. 

Head of Planning has responded that the delay in releasing the document was due to some resistance to it being in the public domain which has now been resolved and also confirmed the current status: 

‘I have checked with Martin Rogers representing Fragrance Group today and there are no intentions to progress any application for any form of alternative development at this moment.  Therefore, the permission for the replacement hotel is the only permission in place.’ 

Creating Age-Friendly Developments

Dr Mark Hammond presentation on Creating Age Friendly Developments, a practical guide for developers, planners and designers embedding Age-Friendly ideas into new housing developments. The guide was created by members of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub Housing Planning and Ageing group, as part of an ongoing programme aiming to increase the quality and quantity of homes suitable for an increasingly diverse older population.

Peer slides – Creating Age Friendly Developments – 16 Nov 23

Should our Planning Committee take into account potental appeals when considering applications?

At some recent planning committee meetings it has been somewhat frustrating that when considering an application some members of the committee have raised the question of potential appeals should applications be refused and the likely cost implications. We were concerned that this may influence decision making and so wanted to have a better understanding of frequency of appeals and costs awarded.

This is what we have found out in respect of appeals in the last three years:

  • 65% of Appeals were dismissed
  • Of the 56 Appeals that were allowed, only 4 were awarded costs.
  • One of those, for a major development had a significant award, the others were lower amounts that should not cause undue concerns.
  • Only the major development P2019/0604 went to Planning Committee.  The Inspectors costs decision is worth reading as it shows the Committee did not have as strong a case for refusal as the recent ones that have been approved when likely appeals and costs had been raised by members.

Response regarding number of appeals made against planning decisions November 2020 – October 2023

Costs Awarded:

Application no Decision Level Reason Date appeal decision issued Costs awarded to appelant (£)
P/2019/0604 Committee Refusal 25/11/20 25280.00
P/2019/1353 Officer Non-determination 15/04/21 425.00
P/2020/1273 Officer Refusal 02/12/21 665.00
P/2020/0543 Officer Refusal 18/10/22 1515.00

 

Costs 2019-0604

 

What is Good Design?

We are currently working on some further clarity to support our policy on Good Design:

‘Policy TH8 – Established architecture
Development must be of good quality design, respect the local character in terms
of height, scale and bulk; and reflect the identity of its surroundings.’

We shall be taking as a point of referenct Torbay Council’s ‘Urban Design Guide’ along with other available guidance and advice to inform and make clearer our policy.

Presentation to the Forum November 2023 – Good Design – Achieving Well Designed Spaces (with speakers notes pages 9 – 18)

 

New laws to speed up planning, build homes and level up.

The Levelling up and Regeneration Bill became law on 26th October 2023

 

Should we be concerned? 

With this latest announcement, we need to look carefully at how/if SWW will meet their wastewater treatment obligations and Torbay Council manage their flood risk issues before housing sites can be finalised.

Housing Today

Torquay allocated £20 million through the Governements ‘Long-Term Plan for Towns’

Following the recent news that Torquay is to receive some additional funding please see their official Press Release

Government’s proposed changes to housing targets and policies

Check out the link to the Governments latest proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Government’s proposed changes to housing targets and policies. September 2023

5G Masts

We are seeing an increasing number of applications for the iinstallation of 5G Masts so have undertaken some research that we will use to inform and comments submitted as and when applciations are received.

 

Fragrance Group Revised Plans To Go On Show – Friday 2nd June

The Fragrance Group will be showing their new proposals for the Palace Hotel site at a drop in between 2 and 8pm in the Peter Larkin Room at St. Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road

Fragrance Group propose scrapping hotel plans

Following a  press release on 6th April the Forum were contacted by representatives of the Fragrance Group to notify us of their intention to scrap their plans to build an hotel on the former Palace Hotel site in favour of further housing.

We await the formal planning application and will respond to that application as an official consultee but below is the response that was given on 21st April on behalf of the Forum.

The Steering Group of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum is extremely disappointed and concerned about the proposal from Fragrance to renege on their Planning Consent for rebuilding the Palace Hotel.  Both the Forum and the Wellswood Community Partnership supported the original proposal as it was of benefit both to the tourist offering for Torquay and to local housing. 

We acknowledge that Torbay appears to have an over-provision of tourist accommodation, but this is of low grade, dating from the 1950’s and 1960’s where rooms were small, and bathrooms were shared.  Currently there are no 5-star hotels in Torquay.  We continue to believe that construction of a 5-star hotel, as proposed, would meet a market need.  This will benefit Torquay economically, both by bringing in visitors with greater spending capacity, and by creating employment opportunities.  The current shortfall in hospitality employees will almost certainly resolve by the time the new hotel comes into operation. 

The Torbay Local Plan Policy TO2 resists conversion of tourist accommodation both inside and outside Core Tourist Investment Areas (CTIA).   Although not in a CTIA, the Palace Hotel would make a major contribution to tourism, with its luxurious landscape and unique coastal setting, which would be squandered if it became solely a housing development.  The hotel must be protected. 

Similarly Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Policy TT1 will only support conversion to residential use if the site is of limited significance to the tourist setting.  As indicated above, the Forum believes that a 5-star hotel on the Palace site would be a significant contributor to the tourism setting.  The Wellswood Community Partnership have a clearly stated Aspiration in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan to “Support any future proposals for redevelopment of the Palace Hotel and grounds while retaining a hotel.” 

Consequently, the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum will strongly oppose any new Planning Application that eliminates the development of a 5-star hotel.  We believe that construction costs could be reduced if necessary to achieve viability by building a smaller hotel with fewer rooms that retains the 5-star quality.’

 

 

Builders are making thumping profits by over-charging  for new homes – new findings

Brunel University research on house prices in the UK – published 7th March 2023

‘The Conversation’ – Business and Economy

Torquay Neighbourhood Forum achieves redesignation

We are pleased to report that Torbay Council at its meeting on 07 March unanimously approved our re-designation.  If you are interested, click on the YouTube link below and go to 4 hours 8 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5GAr51lU3M&t=3s

Westminster Debate 9th February 2023 

On Thursday 9 February MPs debated brownfield development and protecting the green belt. Some MPs who took part in the debate raised concerns about new developments on green belt and greenfield sites.

This was a Westminster Hall debate, led by Wendy Morton MP. Rachel McClean MP, the minister from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities responded to the debate.

Planning Committee Meeting Monday 12th December 2022

The forum will be supporting 3 applications that will be going before the planning committee on Monday; 

P/2022/0772 Rowcroft Hospice 

‘Overall, the Forum is highly supportive of this scheme to expand the facilities of the Hospice. However, we have raised a number of concerns in collaboration with the Community Partnership. We are pleased to report that there has been good engagement with both the Forum and the Community Partnership and, in general, these concerns have been addressed, in particular the concerns relating to the Crownhill Road link.’

P/2021/1314 Former Sheddon Hall Hotel

‘The Forum is pleased to that this derelict ‘eyesore’ site is being proposed for development. It is a good use of Brownfield Land, and will provide much needed housing.’

P/2022/0969 Former Magistrate Court

‘We submitted a response objecting to the previous submission, P/2021/0266. This new proposal is a considerable improvement, and we are aware of engagement with the Community Partnership. A review of the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan Policies shows good compliance.’

Investment Zones – October 2022

 

Following a recent article in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/…/investment-zones-could-be…

 

here is a link to the Government guidance on Investment Zones:

https://www.gov.uk/…/inv…/investment-zones-in-england…

 

While we appreciate updating the Planning system to create more housing,we are concerned that these proposals could invalidate both Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans. We have had discussions in the past about how these Plans suffer reduced weight when Housing Targets are not being met, because LPA targets should be based on Consents (which are in LPA control) and not on Delivery (which is impacted by Developers ‘and banking’). In particular, we need to be able to continue to protect Torquay’s Green Spaces.

 

5G Masts

We are seeing an increasing number of applications for the iinstallation of 5G Masts so have undertaken some research that we will use to inform and comments submitted as and when applciations are received. Our research document can be viewed via this link:

5G Presentation_5G Masts  

Fragrance Group Revised Plans To Go On Show – Friday 2nd June

The Fragrance Group will be showing their new proposals for the Palace Hotel site at a drop in between 2 and 8pm in the Peter Larkin Room at St. Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road

Fragrance Group propose scrapping hotel plans

Following a  press release on 6th April the Forum were contacted by representatives of the Fragrance Group to notify us of their intention to scrap their plans to build an hotel on the former Palace Hotel site in favour of further housing.

We await the formal planning application and will respond to that application as an official consultee but below is the response that was given on 21st April on behalf of the Forum.

The Steering Group of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum is extremely disappointed and concerned about the proposal from Fragrance to renege on their Planning Consent for rebuilding the Palace Hotel.  Both the Forum and the Wellswood Community Partnership supported the original proposal as it was of benefit both to the tourist offering for Torquay and to local housing. 

We acknowledge that Torbay appears to have an over-provision of tourist accommodation, but this is of low grade, dating from the 1950’s and 1960’s where rooms were small, and bathrooms were shared.  Currently there are no 5-star hotels in Torquay.  We continue to believe that construction of a 5-star hotel, as proposed, would meet a market need.  This will benefit Torquay economically, both by bringing in visitors with greater spending capacity, and by creating employment opportunities.  The current shortfall in hospitality employees will almost certainly resolve by the time the new hotel comes into operation. 

The Torbay Local Plan Policy TO2 resists conversion of tourist accommodation both inside and outside Core Tourist Investment Areas (CTIA).   Although not in a CTIA, the Palace Hotel would make a major contribution to tourism, with its luxurious landscape and unique coastal setting, which would be squandered if it became solely a housing development.  The hotel must be protected. 

Similarly Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Policy TT1 will only support conversion to residential use if the site is of limited significance to the tourist setting.  As indicated above, the Forum believes that a 5-star hotel on the Palace site would be a significant contributor to the tourism setting.  The Wellswood Community Partnership have a clearly stated Aspiration in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan to “Support any future proposals for redevelopment of the Palace Hotel and grounds while retaining a hotel.” 

Consequently, the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum will strongly oppose any new Planning Application that eliminates the development of a 5-star hotel.  We believe that construction costs could be reduced if necessary to achieve viability by building a smaller hotel with fewer rooms that retains the 5-star quality.’

 

 

Builders are making thumping profits by over-charging  for new homes – new findings

Brunel University research on house prices in the UK – published 7th March 2023

‘The Conversation’ – Business and Economy

Torquay Neighbourhood Forum achieves redesignation

We are pleased to report that Torbay Council at its meeting on 07 March unanimously approved our re-designation.  If you are interested, click on the YouTube link below and go to 4 hours 8 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5GAr51lU3M&t=3s

Westminster Debate 9th February 2023 

On Thursday 9 February MPs debated brownfield development and protecting the green belt. Some MPs who took part in the debate raised concerns about new developments on green belt and greenfield sites.

This was a Westminster Hall debate, led by Wendy Morton MP. Rachel McClean MP, the minister from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities responded to the debate.

Planning Committee Meeting Monday 12th December 2022

The forum will be supporting 3 applications that will be going before the planning committee on Monday; 

P/2022/0772 Rowcroft Hospice 

‘Overall, the Forum is highly supportive of this scheme to expand the facilities of the Hospice. However, we have raised a number of concerns in collaboration with the Community Partnership. We are pleased to report that there has been good engagement with both the Forum and the Community Partnership and, in general, these concerns have been addressed, in particular the concerns relating to the Crownhill Road link.’

P/2021/1314 Former Sheddon Hall Hotel

‘The Forum is pleased to that this derelict ‘eyesore’ site is being proposed for development. It is a good use of Brownfield Land, and will provide much needed housing.’

P/2022/0969 Former Magistrate Court

‘We submitted a response objecting to the previous submission, P/2021/0266. This new proposal is a considerable improvement, and we are aware of engagement with the Community Partnership. A review of the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan Policies shows good compliance.’

Investment Zones – October 2022

 

Following a recent article in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/…/investment-zones-could-be…

 

here is a link to the Government guidance on Investment Zones:

https://www.gov.uk/…/inv…/investment-zones-in-england…

 

While we appreciate updating the Planning system to create more housing,we are concerned that these proposals could invalidate both Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans. We have had discussions in the past about how these Plans suffer reduced weight when Housing Targets are not being met, because LPA targets should be based on Consents (which are in LPA control) and not on Delivery (which is impacted by Developers ‘and banking’). In particular, we need to be able to continue to protect Torquay’s Green Spaces.

 

5G Masts

We are seeing an increasing number of applications for the iinstallation of 5G Masts so have undertaken some research that we will use to inform and comments submitted as and when applciations are received. Our research document can be viewed via this link:

5G Presentation_5G Masts  

Fragrance Group Revised Plans To Go On Show – Friday 2nd June

The Fragrance Group will be showing their new proposals for the Palace Hotel site at a drop in between 2 and 8pm in the Peter Larkin Room at St. Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road

Fragrance Group propose scrapping hotel plans

Following a  press release on 6th April the Forum were contacted by representatives of the Fragrance Group to notify us of their intention to scrap their plans to build an hotel on the former Palace Hotel site in favour of further housing.

We await the formal planning application and will respond to that application as an official consultee but below is the response that was given on 21st April on behalf of the Forum.

The Steering Group of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum is extremely disappointed and concerned about the proposal from Fragrance to renege on their Planning Consent for rebuilding the Palace Hotel.  Both the Forum and the Wellswood Community Partnership supported the original proposal as it was of benefit both to the tourist offering for Torquay and to local housing. 

We acknowledge that Torbay appears to have an over-provision of tourist accommodation, but this is of low grade, dating from the 1950’s and 1960’s where rooms were small, and bathrooms were shared.  Currently there are no 5-star hotels in Torquay.  We continue to believe that construction of a 5-star hotel, as proposed, would meet a market need.  This will benefit Torquay economically, both by bringing in visitors with greater spending capacity, and by creating employment opportunities.  The current shortfall in hospitality employees will almost certainly resolve by the time the new hotel comes into operation. 

The Torbay Local Plan Policy TO2 resists conversion of tourist accommodation both inside and outside Core Tourist Investment Areas (CTIA).   Although not in a CTIA, the Palace Hotel would make a major contribution to tourism, with its luxurious landscape and unique coastal setting, which would be squandered if it became solely a housing development.  The hotel must be protected. 

Similarly Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Policy TT1 will only support conversion to residential use if the site is of limited significance to the tourist setting.  As indicated above, the Forum believes that a 5-star hotel on the Palace site would be a significant contributor to the tourism setting.  The Wellswood Community Partnership have a clearly stated Aspiration in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan to “Support any future proposals for redevelopment of the Palace Hotel and grounds while retaining a hotel.” 

Consequently, the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum will strongly oppose any new Planning Application that eliminates the development of a 5-star hotel.  We believe that construction costs could be reduced if necessary to achieve viability by building a smaller hotel with fewer rooms that retains the 5-star quality.’

 

 

Builders are making thumping profits by over-charging  for new homes – new findings

Brunel University research on house prices in the UK – published 7th March 2023

‘The Conversation’ – Business and Economy

Torquay Neighbourhood Forum achieves redesignation

We are pleased to report that Torbay Council at its meeting on 07 March unanimously approved our re-designation.  If you are interested, click on the YouTube link below and go to 4 hours 8 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5GAr51lU3M&t=3s

Westminster Debate 9th February 2023 

On Thursday 9 February MPs debated brownfield development and protecting the green belt. Some MPs who took part in the debate raised concerns about new developments on green belt and greenfield sites.

This was a Westminster Hall debate, led by Wendy Morton MP. Rachel McClean MP, the minister from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities responded to the debate.

Planning Committee Meeting Monday 12th December 2022

The forum will be supporting 3 applications that will be going before the planning committee on Monday; 

P/2022/0772 Rowcroft Hospice 

‘Overall, the Forum is highly supportive of this scheme to expand the facilities of the Hospice. However, we have raised a number of concerns in collaboration with the Community Partnership. We are pleased to report that there has been good engagement with both the Forum and the Community Partnership and, in general, these concerns have been addressed, in particular the concerns relating to the Crownhill Road link.’

P/2021/1314 Former Sheddon Hall Hotel

‘The Forum is pleased to that this derelict ‘eyesore’ site is being proposed for development. It is a good use of Brownfield Land, and will provide much needed housing.’

P/2022/0969 Former Magistrate Court

‘We submitted a response objecting to the previous submission, P/2021/0266. This new proposal is a considerable improvement, and we are aware of engagement with the Community Partnership. A review of the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan Policies shows good compliance.’

Investment Zones – October 2022

 

Following a recent article in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/…/investment-zones-could-be…

 

here is a link to the Government guidance on Investment Zones:

https://www.gov.uk/…/inv…/investment-zones-in-england…

 

While we appreciate updating the Planning system to create more housing,we are concerned that these proposals could invalidate both Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans. We have had discussions in the past about how these Plans suffer reduced weight when Housing Targets are not being met, because LPA targets should be based on Consents (which are in LPA control) and not on Delivery (which is impacted by Developers ‘and banking’). In particular, we need to be able to continue to protect Torquay’s Green Spaces.

 

Fragrance Group Revised Plans To Go On Show – Friday 2nd June

The Fragrance Group will be showing their new proposals for the Palace Hotel site at a drop in between 2 and 8pm in the Peter Larkin Room at St. Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road

Fragrance Group propose scrapping hotel plans

Following a  press release on 6th April the Forum were contacted by representatives of the Fragrance Group to notify us of their intention to scrap their plans to build an hotel on the former Palace Hotel site in favour of further housing.

We await the formal planning application and will respond to that application as an official consultee but below is the response that was given on 21st April on behalf of the Forum.

The Steering Group of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum is extremely disappointed and concerned about the proposal from Fragrance to renege on their Planning Consent for rebuilding the Palace Hotel.  Both the Forum and the Wellswood Community Partnership supported the original proposal as it was of benefit both to the tourist offering for Torquay and to local housing. 

We acknowledge that Torbay appears to have an over-provision of tourist accommodation, but this is of low grade, dating from the 1950’s and 1960’s where rooms were small, and bathrooms were shared.  Currently there are no 5-star hotels in Torquay.  We continue to believe that construction of a 5-star hotel, as proposed, would meet a market need.  This will benefit Torquay economically, both by bringing in visitors with greater spending capacity, and by creating employment opportunities.  The current shortfall in hospitality employees will almost certainly resolve by the time the new hotel comes into operation. 

The Torbay Local Plan Policy TO2 resists conversion of tourist accommodation both inside and outside Core Tourist Investment Areas (CTIA).   Although not in a CTIA, the Palace Hotel would make a major contribution to tourism, with its luxurious landscape and unique coastal setting, which would be squandered if it became solely a housing development.  The hotel must be protected. 

Similarly Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Policy TT1 will only support conversion to residential use if the site is of limited significance to the tourist setting.  As indicated above, the Forum believes that a 5-star hotel on the Palace site would be a significant contributor to the tourism setting.  The Wellswood Community Partnership have a clearly stated Aspiration in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan to “Support any future proposals for redevelopment of the Palace Hotel and grounds while retaining a hotel.” 

Consequently, the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum will strongly oppose any new Planning Application that eliminates the development of a 5-star hotel.  We believe that construction costs could be reduced if necessary to achieve viability by building a smaller hotel with fewer rooms that retains the 5-star quality.’

 

 

Builders are making thumping profits by over-charging  for new homes – new findings

Brunel University research on house prices in the UK – published 7th March 2023

‘The Conversation’ – Business and Economy

Torquay Neighbourhood Forum achieves redesignation

We are pleased to report that Torbay Council at its meeting on 07 March unanimously approved our re-designation.  If you are interested, click on the YouTube link below and go to 4 hours 8 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5GAr51lU3M&t=3s

Westminster Debate 9th February 2023 

On Thursday 9 February MPs debated brownfield development and protecting the green belt. Some MPs who took part in the debate raised concerns about new developments on green belt and greenfield sites.

This was a Westminster Hall debate, led by Wendy Morton MP. Rachel McClean MP, the minister from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities responded to the debate.

Planning Committee Meeting Monday 12th December 2022

The forum will be supporting 3 applications that will be going before the planning committee on Monday; 

P/2022/0772 Rowcroft Hospice 

‘Overall, the Forum is highly supportive of this scheme to expand the facilities of the Hospice. However, we have raised a number of concerns in collaboration with the Community Partnership. We are pleased to report that there has been good engagement with both the Forum and the Community Partnership and, in general, these concerns have been addressed, in particular the concerns relating to the Crownhill Road link.’

P/2021/1314 Former Sheddon Hall Hotel

‘The Forum is pleased to that this derelict ‘eyesore’ site is being proposed for development. It is a good use of Brownfield Land, and will provide much needed housing.’

P/2022/0969 Former Magistrate Court

‘We submitted a response objecting to the previous submission, P/2021/0266. This new proposal is a considerable improvement, and we are aware of engagement with the Community Partnership. A review of the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan Policies shows good compliance.’

Investment Zones – October 2022

 

Following a recent article in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/…/investment-zones-could-be…

 

here is a link to the Government guidance on Investment Zones:

https://www.gov.uk/…/inv…/investment-zones-in-england…

 

While we appreciate updating the Planning system to create more housing,we are concerned that these proposals could invalidate both Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans. We have had discussions in the past about how these Plans suffer reduced weight when Housing Targets are not being met, because LPA targets should be based on Consents (which are in LPA control) and not on Delivery (which is impacted by Developers ‘and banking’). In particular, we need to be able to continue to protect Torquay’s Green Spaces.

 

Housing Site Options Consultation – Torbay Council – October 2022

 

Torbay Council have just published the Housing Site Options consultation, as part of the preparation of the Torbay Local Plan Update 2022-2040: A Landscape to Thrive. The consultation is open until 12 Noon on Monday 21st November 2022.

 

The best way to view and make comments on the Site Options consultation is via the council’s online platform at: https://yoursay.torbay.gov.uk/local-plan-update . There is an online questionnaire, and it would be very much appreciated if you could make comments via this online platform. There is an option to answer a “quick question” rather than fill in the whole questionnaire. There is more information on the background to the Local Plan Update at Local Plan Update – Torbay Council.

 

They are asking as many people as possible to comment via the online platform. But you can also email a response to future.planning@torbay.gov.uk, or post to: Strategy and Project Management, Spatial Planning, Tor Hill House, 2nd Floor North, Castle Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR. Any representations received in response must be made available for public inspection.

 

This consultation (which is made at “Regulation 18” Issues and options stage) focusses on housing numbers, distribution, and site allocations. They are also consulting on draft housing policies. They will take any representation made in response to the consultation into account in preparing the next stage of the Local Plan.

 

They intend to publish the pre-submission draft Local Plan (i.e. the Regulation 19 “Preferred Option”) in Summer 2023. They hope that as many people as possible will “have their say” on the Plan by the closing date of 21st November 2022.

 

Torquay Secures Town Deal Investment – October 2020

 

In September 2019, the Government announced a new multi-million-pound Towns Fund. Torquay was one of 101 towns invited to develop innovative regeneration plans that will help to build a prosperous future for the town.  

 

A Town Board was created to oversee the production of a Town Investment Plan, drawing evidence from previous consultations, The Local Plan and the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan, which was submitted to Government and formed the basis for a Town Deal.

 

Torquay heard in October 2020 that their bid was successful, and they will receive a significant investment of £21.9 million from the Government’s Towns Fund. In addition, they have received some advance funding to deliver three smaller identified projects: Upton Park, Princess Gardens and Royal Terrace Gardens

 

For more information visit: https://www.torbay.gov.uk/leisure-sports-and-community/regeneration/torquay-towns-fund/

Permitted Development and the Threat to Conservation Areas – September 2o20

 

It is possible to perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights” and they derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/596/contents/made

In some areas of the country, known generally as ‘designated areas’, permitted development rights are more restricted. For example, if you live in:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site or
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads.

However, these restrictions are very much open to interpretation and dependent on how far or willing a local authority is prepared to go to protect such areas. Some will therefore take steps to add in another layer of protection by issuing Article 4 directions

These are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened and are most common in conservation areas. If a Local Authority uses its powers to issue Article 4 directions this compels a developer to submit a planning application which would then allow for representation to be made and policies in both Neighbourhood and Local Plans and statements in designated conservation areas be considered.

Torquay has many designated conservation areas, sixteen in fact, and one might therefore assume, that our Local Authority would have safeguarded their protection with Article 4 directions. The only Article 4 direction that we have been able to find for Torquay is in relation to the change of use from C3 Dwellings to C4 Small HMO.

One does not have to look that far to see how our conservation areas in Torquay are being undermined through this lack of political will, firstly in the interpretation of Permitted Development conditions around conservation areas and secondly through the lack of article 4 directions that could provide that additional protection.

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