Tuesday 11 January 2022
In August 2021, Richard Kaskow presented the idea of pedestrianising Station Square and Torbay Road, on behalf of the partnership and forum. The aim was to end the vehicle gridlock situation every time the railway crossing gates came down. The idea was well received, with Matt McFeat of PJA, aided by Jan Trimble of Kay Elliott's, who prepared six scenarios for consideration, back in October. There has been very limited dialogue since then.
In the meantime, the community partnership have held a meeting with the Torbay Road traders (with questionnaire completed). Dartmouth Steam Railway have also been consulted with regard to their access requirements. Colin Hurst has made enquiries about renting a Victoria Street shop with a view to undertaking a consultation but the Council now plans to engage a consultant to do the engagement. A lot of decisions will have been made before the community is consulted, when we wanted to take them with us, on this important aspect of our town's improvement.
From the details on the invitation to the zoom meeting on the 13th January, the aim is to make some serious progress. It was therefore essential for us to examine the scenarios in detail and make some decisions together. A zoom meeting is not a good environment to decide how to spend millions on the future of our town. Since the New Year, we have had a partnership meeting when a decision to for FULL PEDESTRIANISATION was made. We have developed the scheme, incorporating new ideas and solving all the related issues. These now include incorporating a section of the Western Esplanade, at the bottom end of Torbay Road within the proposal!
Town Traffic Plan 1
Shows the routes in red to get to the existing multi storey car park. The two new hotels are used as a new landmark with traffic entering between them on a one way route to the car park.
There are the two routes along the coast from Torquay and Brixham with no changes involved. Route A proceeding down Headland Road going via Seaway Road and Marine Drive at Preston. Routes B, C to the seafront will change at the 'Milk Bottle' junction, from being directed to turn left to head towards the Manor Road traffic light junction. This will significantly reduce the volume of traffic travelling to the multi-storey car park and seafront through the town centre via Hyde Road and Torbay Road. Route D from Tweenaway Cross along Totnes Road remains unaffected, as the only one entering the town centre.
Lower Polsham Road could end up a short cut and best avoided during the summer months, as turning right onto the Esplanade may present a problem at busier times. If it became a rat-run, then “access only| will provide a solution. Very high-sided lorries will need to re-route via Sands Road or downsize to avoid the situation.
Locals will be more aware of the smaller car parks, off Great Western Way, should they want an alternative to the multi-storey.
A 20-mph zone is suggested along the entire promenade of Preston and Paignton, Hyde Road and Great Western Way, as well as Queens Road and Garfield Road. The same limit will apply to all minor roads within the area bounded by the latter three roads mentioned.
The new pedestrianised section of the town is shown in blue. Whilst not coloured, it is a continuation of the pedestrianised Victoria Street to the west and Palace Avenue Gardens beyond. At some stage some cosmetic improvements to the top-end of Victoria Street, with its junction with Torquay Road, need to made, to improve the appearance and connectivity with Palace Avenue Gardens. The idea of pedestrianising Torquay Road is not supported, as this will result in creating a very busy two-way traffic route running alongside the new Station Square.
Traffic Plan – Top End 2
Shows the main Hyde Road route in red running north-south as one lane only. It will change to two lanes after the bus station traffic controls. A cycle lane is to run the entire length of Hyde Road and Great Western Way. Two 'timed' level crossings are located in roughly the same position as the existing crossing points. The footpath alongside the buildings opposite the station could benefit from being a bit wider but not enough to encourage outdoor seating, in what will still be a busy road. It will also defeat the objective of providing a wider footpath for pedestrians walking from the bus/train station towards Victoria Street and Hyde Road.
Buses and coaches, to include those of the Dartmouth Steam Railway and National Express bus stop, will move from outside the library to a series of allocated bays in Hyde Road, starting alongside the Savages DIY shop side of the road. Note the building does have a glass canopy for anyone waiting.
A significant screen or barrier with subtropical planting on the roadside is needed to enclose the new Station Square. It will stop jaywalking and help reduce the impact of traffic noise and pollution in the square, in what is hoped will be very pleasant place to spend some time. NO traffic will pass through the square at any time with PJA's idea to create a turning area, on the other side of the railway line being a very good idea.
Getting a better deal with Network Rail is suggested in relation to what the town needs – a new canopy, taxi rank parking, drop off and pick up point and the infilling with a new building to enclose the square (yellow hatched rectangle on the plan) to create an information kiosk, cycle and mobility hubs and maybe refreshment kiosk working for both ways: square and station.
We understand Torbay Council/TDA have agreed to contribute a significant sum of £300,000 towards a new canopy but to-date we have not seen what it looks like. The partnership designed and costed one many years ago for around £100,000, as part of creating real a 'Welcome to Paignton'. The taxi rank, pick up and drop off point should be relocated to the Network Rail-owned car park, next to the library.
The footpath on the north canopy side of Torbay Road is to be widened throughout, to allow businesses to expand outside. The exact details are part of the next design stage.
Access for deliveries to Torbay Road will come off Western Esplanade at the seafront end of the road or half way up at the junction with Queens Road. Deliveries must be made before 10.00am winter and summer and maybe after midnight, if the nighttime economy is to thrive along this road. Existing loading bays are to be retained on the south side of the road only. Vehicles will be able to turn around in the vicinity of the Picture House and go back down Torbay road to join Queens Road. The delivery bays will allow for two-way traffic to manoeuvre past each other.
Access (lighter coloured red roads) to the bowling club and residential properties are permitted 24-hours of the day with drivers expected to drive with due consideration – pedestrians have priority.
The long-term servicing of Victoria Square has also be considered with access from the north and south. In any future redevelopment, an enhanced pedestrian route must be incorporated within a well-designed public realm.
Traffic Plan – Sea Front End 3
Shows the main route from the north along Western Esplanade into the multi-storey car park via the two new hotels – a new very prominent landmark. The main route from the south comes off Sands Road and along Queens Road and Garfield Road. Western Esplanade beyond Beach Road in the north and Adelphi Road in the south, provide the limit of the seafront pedestrianisation, in front of the cinema. Kernou road will be limited to access only, given that it is the main pedestrian route from the car park to the sea front. The bonus of this idea is to reduce or eliminate the amount of traffic running past the two major pub gardens.
The traffic running past the front of the larger hotel could be similarly reduced, if the route between the two hotels was made two way, subject to the Garfield Road width being adequate.
Deliveries will be restricted to set hours as at the top-end with access off Western Esplanade. The unloading bays remain on the south side only. 24-hours access is provided to Page House.
Our view is that the multi-storey carpark, whether repaired or rebuilt, MUST be part of any future redevelopment plans. There must be no time when the town is without one. That situation, along with the loss of the Lidl supermarket, will have major effect on the town centre and could completely negate the proposed work and millions spent.
It's a genuine concern as Torbay Council's first car parking strategy advised on replacing the multi-storey with parking out at Clennon Valley, then taking the bus or walking back in – totally flawed thinking in our view. A second car parking strategy is due out but who briefed them etc... We must all keep a close eye on this one, given the new hotels' car parking is totally inadequate and the proposed scheme will see the loss of parking from Torbay Road.
The replacement of the cinema with a building more appropriate to this location has been talked about for many years – Mayor's Vision and Paignton Masterplan. It is sure to come up again, when consultants consider a masterplan for how we make our prom great again. In the meantime, there is an opportunity to extend the pedestrian area beyond Torbay Road. It will allow the opportunity to create a space for pedestrians to flow naturally in two directions – the Geoplay park, pier and beach in one direction and the harbour in the other. It maybe more suitable as an events space, light show, etc, in preference to using the bottom end of Torbay Road.
Costs, phasing and timing.
We understand that £1.5M has been budgeted for Station Square and a further £800K for Torbay Road. Even then the consultants noted that some sort of phasing was necessary with the bottom end of Torbay Road suggested as phase two.
The costings with the council's scenarios are now in region of £4M, using the very best materials throughout - granite paving was mentioned.
• We ask to know the budget costs for our latest proposal, assuming it will be approved. Will the Council borrow money or Government funding, as phasing is not acceptable. How can savings be made, if there is no alternative funding? The town centre has been waiting for investment for years, so we must aim to do everything envisaged without delay.
• We also ask for confirmation on a start being made in October 2022, given the stage at which we current find ourselves.