Save Cary Green! With me the fight would not have to continue. The current design is just unacceptable!
This reminds me of experiences with Babbacombe Downs and Proposed Developments on Princess Gardens under Nick Bye’s regime. At that kind time Gordon Oliver came on the scene, replacing Nick as the Conservative candidate for Mayor in 2011. In his Mayoral booklet statement PLEDGING ‘sympathetic regeneration’ and supposedly ‘no development on prominent seafront locations’. HOW THOSE PLEDGES HAVE NOW BEEN BROKEN AND ADDING TO THE LIST OF OTHERS!
In those times there were desires for investment and economic regeneration but THE designs proposed had huge public objections which I feel Mayor Oliver rode that wave to gain support. 4 years later he blocks a covenant proposal to PROTECT Cary Green in support of the NJG plan.
To give people some background to myself; I have been involved in historic conservation, repairing, restoring and sustaining Grade 2 star listed range of buildings, the oldest residency in Torbay and similar in listing to Oldway Mansions. I was also involved with potential conservation solution to the deterioration of the banjo (in Princess Gardens). Indeed with that scheme I made a presentation offering a solution, that would save Council (us) in excess of 2.5 million, bring income to council in excess of £100,000pa, remove an eyesore, bring in income to the economy > £1 million pa, all most importantly with a design that met and overcame public concerns – the design presented at the Riviera International Conference Centre on the same night the Nicolas James Group (NJG) presented a vision for their development.
One must note that the design by NJG then is far away from the design now; a design then that had conservation as well as modernisation in mind. Now, as we know, it has turned into 14 stories high, which would put at jeopardy Cary Green.
We need to ask ourselves how the design has got to this stage; in order to find a way forward.
Possibly NJG have been pushed in a direction that they have not necessarily wanted to go? I SAY POSSIBLY SINCE they have had to make presentations to a body called the Design Review Panel (DRP) some five times. I have had experience with this panel – I was required to present the Banjo solution (Ocean Circle) to the DRP. At my presentation I opened by stating that the design had overcome public objection and had public support and therefore I didn’t want major changes that would only cause opposition, but was told “you should ignore public opinion and go for something more iconic!”. Tragic!!
The current NJG design is certainly iconic, but now opposition from a number of directions – AND RIGHTLY SO. Well done ‘SAVE CARY GREEN’.
I know that a plan to try and save Cary Green via Cary Green Covenant, similar to Churston had been called in to Scrutiny & Overview Committee – however the Mayor’s decision with regard to blocking Ocean Circle and pushing forward his plan for the banjo was also called in.
The petition gathered 1420 signatures, 99% from people living in Torquay postcodes. At a full council meeting the Mayor voted against a MAJORITY vote by the Councillors to grant the Covenant on Cary Green completely disregarding the wishes of 1400 Torquay residents.
Even though a cost benefit analysis in favour to the Bay of £40m+ was given for that scheme, he still got his way (stating his election pledge of no building on the harbour side even though 3 weeks after becoming Mayor, he had a meeting to look over the possible scheme and gave the go ahead to consortium to look at, contact Community Partnerships etc!). As one councillor stated to me, “Martin there was no way he would have allowed. Can you imagine if it had, and you stood for Mayor again, with a front page – Look what I did when not Mayor; Imagine what we can do as Mayor”). I would expect therefore Mayor Oliver will stick to his guns on this AND HE HAS at the Mayoral hustings at Princess Theatre although saying a ‘planning issue’ he has blocked the Covenant proposal thereby facilitating NJG.
I realise that in the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan there is an inclusion for an alternative (possible long term aspirational) ‘Island Scheme’.
I also know about presentations via The Pavilion Trust (an incorporated CIC).
I would therefore propose a 4 month period for proper discussions considering:
- NJG revised plan that does not include loss of Cary Green and follows original presentation made to the public; sympathetic and regenerative (I would love to know is my suspicions are correct regarding DRP).
- Is ‘Island scheme’ really viable or a side track?
- Whether realistic and achievable for Community Projects via CIC?
We need to move forward. The Pavilion is closed – a gem to Torbay – and needs our support and action now.
I AM NOT IN FAVOUR OF THE CURRENT SCHEME AND AS AN ‘INDEPENDENT’ CANDIDATE NOT SWAYED BY PARTY POLITICS. AFTER ALL IT IS MAYOR OF TORBAY.