Let’s Make Paignton’s Prom Great Again!
Saturday 17 April 2021
We're getting so many requests for more information on the seawall, we've put together this info. We need you to engage and tell us your thoughts. Make any comment that you like. We're particularly interested in questions that you want to put to Torbay Council. Every voice counts!
Your Paignton Town Centre & Preston Community Partnership
The difference between the quality of the promenades at Torquay and Paignton is massive. Millions have been spent on Torquay seafront projects in recent years to include the Royal Terrace Gardens, the restoration of the fountain, vast areas of new paving, the removal of the upper deck of the banjo, extensive landscaping to include large palms, new toilet and kiosk buildings; coupled with the ongoing annual maintenance costs to keep it all looking good.
Torbay Council's March 2021 release states £750,000 is being spent on town projects to include state-of-the-art lighting on Terrace Gardens and new paths around the banjo to create an events space, with work already under way. It's looking great!
Paignton, on the other hand, has seen a serious deterioration in the appearance of its prom over the past 40 years due a succession of poor quality decision-making starting with the Festival Theatre (now the Vue cinema) in 1967 – a massive concrete blot on the sea front!
More recent additions include the industrial-looking lighting scheme, an excessive number of parking meters, a proliferation of p signage, street furniture and the corporate colour scheme, combined with a lack of investment in maintenance and landscaping apart from the planting of some bedding plants each year.
It has been left to the pier and kiosk businesses, two restaurants, event organisers and the community’s Geoplay Park to bring in the locals and tourists.
Lack of Understanding
Decisions continue to be be left to officers with no understanding or appreciation of how additions or changes impact on the public realm. Given the Council’s track record we have no confidence in the sea wall option being promoted – not just to hold back the sea but to be an attractive addition to the deteriorating public realm. It's already being called the Berlin Wall!
A New Wave Wall
Ideas for consideration
In the Council's July 2019 report, the existing sea wall is stated as having a life expectancy of 50 years. The option of providing a new sea wall then was considered but rejected due to the cost and height involved. A height of 2.8m is mentioned to achieve the 2065 standard but we are not sure if this a straight vertical wall or wave wall! To us it does not seem correct to need a wall twice the height on the seaward side of the prom compared to The Green side!
Height of the Wall
So, in 50 years from now we could end up with a 1.4m high set back wall and a new replacement sea wall on the line of the existing one, costing millions more.
As sections of the community are objecting to the set back wall option we are asking for further investigation into a long-term solution on the current sea wall, subject to it being suitable for long-term retention, or starting from scratch!
Sometimes a 'one size fits all solution' is not appropriate. A different approach is needed between the cinema and the pier as a minimum – it's the busiest section.
Here's the craziest bit: The image above is from the Paignton masterplan. What happened to that consulted MASTERPLAN?
A level survey (temporary datum on prom footpath) has been undertaken in order to draw cross-sections through the sea wall, Eastern Esplanade (prom) and part of The Green. Levels have also been taken on the Western Esplanade (main road) and the upper ground level on the Spinning Wheel pub. The latter location was taken to give an idea of what people might see (at eye level) from the hotels and pubs looking towards the prom.
It's worth looking at DRAWING 1 again to appreciate that the sea has very little to impede its flow inland, apart from the built-up wall adjacent to the cinema. The upper sand/beach level covers the existing steps for most of the beach and so does little to reduce the wave's strength.
DRAWING 2 Alternative Scheme – Cinema to Pier. A wave wall detail has been added to the section and shows a height of 1.6m above the existing sea wall at location A.
This is 1.4m above the pavement level alongside the playpark and so the same height as the Council's set back wall of 1.4m in this location.
The design with its curve is indicative only and is up to the engineers to advise on, as is the suitability of the existing wall to sustain additional loading. The precast units can be moved in 2035 and placed back on a 1.2m high in-situ concrete base in order to get close to to the 2065 requirements of a 2.8m height wall. The rest of the existing construction on the seaward side consisting of the path and steps can be redesigned and replaced or strengthened post 2065.
You will see how seating can be incorporated into this. The lower level seating is in the same location seen in historic photographs.
Elsewhere, there is a desire to introduce new illuminated landscaped zones at the north and south ends of The Green, the entrance between the north and middle green and the route up to the pier, as well as the existing borders en route to the harbour and the bland landscaped area between the pirate golf set up and the cinema.
We are also wanting the section of the prom between the pier and cinema to be pedestrianised, with vehicular access limited to business users only. Like the banjo location in Torquay, this could become our 'prom events space' during the summer with bikers night, inline skaters night, street entertainers, music/dance night, etc. Owners of the existing kiosks currently sitting on steelwork on the beach may like to move onto this sea-protected prom with its opportunity for more extensive seating. Refer to Sketch 2.
Finally, the underside to the Shoreline restaurant needs some marine artwork and light show to liven up this miserable space. The pavings between the playpark and Harvester also need repair. Refer to Sketch 3 for a comprehensive plan for the seafront.
It's our suggested vision for the future. It's time to make Paignton's prom great again!
We now have a continual stream of comments from business owners. There is a very serious concern over the impact of the scheme in both the short and long terms; with a planned start this year. They are hoping for a good summer to trade after Covid rules are relaxed but the future is uncertain.