Agenda item

Levelling Up Bill and Regeneration Bill

1.         To receive assurance on the preparedness of implementing the changes arising from the Levelling Up Bill and Regeneration Bills due to come into effect in the Autumn.


2.         To receive an update on the progress of implementing the Government Funding for the Town Centres and the deadlines for the grants.


(Note:  The Leader of the Council, Director of Pride in Place and representative from the Planning Department have been invited to attend for this item.)



The Leader of the Council, Councillor David Thomas, and the Director of Pride in Place, Alan Denby, provided an update on the potential implications of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill as set out in the submitted report.


The Leader of the Council and Director of Pride in Place also provided a verbal update on the latest position on the Future High Streets and Town Deal Funds.  Members noted that the Future High Street Fund of £13.3m had a deadline of 31 March 2024 to spend and the projects for this Fund focussed around Paignton Town Centre to move it from just retail to a mix of use, this included sites such as Crossways, Victoria Centre, Torbay Road and Station Square public realm, Preston/Paignton sea defences, Paignton Picture House and diversification with more people living above shops.  Members were advised of the progress for each of these areas and the risks and delays to some of their delivery.


The Torquay Town Deal was £21.9m focussed around Torquay Town Centre and included projects such as harbour public realm, Debenhams, Edginswell Railway Station and pedestrian improvements to Torquay Railway Station.  Members noted the progress and risks with these projects and the requirement for the funding to also be spent by 31 March 2024.


The Board received responses to the following questions:

·                     The proposed phasing of the Preston/Paignton sea defences was supported, but how would the phasing ensure that the public realm elements were delivered as well as the actual sea wall defences.

·                     What was the current cost of the Preston/Paignton sea defences.

·                     Was there opportunity to use soil from other Council owned local sites to raise the ground levels for the Preston/Paignton sea defences to save the Council costs of disposal of the soil.

·                     What action was being taken to ensure that the Crossways site was developed and was there opportunities for greater than 30% policy requirements for affordable housing on the site to help meet the Council’s requirements.

·                     What action was being taken with the owners of the building by Station Square to improve the visual impact of the building and to bring it back into use.

·                     It was suggested that key worker housing could be provided on the Victoria Square site, what was the demand for such units and how many units could be provided on the site.

·                     What was the current situation for the Pavilion site and how would any funding from redevelopment of the car park site be guaranteed when previous schemes have been found not to be viable.

·                     What were the implications for the Council of the additional costs for the Edginswell Railway Station and would this affect the delivery of the station.

·                     Was there potential for Torbay Hospital to contribute towards the additional costs of Edginswell Railway Station as it would benefit their staff and patients.

·                     What assurance could be given that the Council would be able to deliver the proposed regeneration projects and who else was involved.

·                     How does the replacement of the Community Infrastrucutre Levy (CIL) impact on the current 25% allocated to adopted Neighbourhood Plans to develop community based projects.

·                     The Bill proposes a 5 year protection where there were adopted Neighbourhood Plans which have identified sites for housing, what was being done to address this in Paignton.  What action was being taken to ensure that our Neighbourhood Plans were being updated before their current expiry in June 2024 and to ensure that all have identified sites for housing development.

·                     What were the implications for Torbay as a tourism destination on the extension of permitted development rights which could mean more holiday accommodation being converted to residential.

·                     How were infrastructure requirements e.g. doctors, dentists, schools etc being impacted and considered in the proposed changes to the Planning System.

·                     How would the ‘un-met housing need being passed to neighbours’ work and what would be the implications for Torbay.


Members noted that Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was still in its early stages and suggested that it would be helpful to have an all Member Briefing later in the year once the Bill had passed further through Parliament and more details were known.  They requested that the areas suggested at the meeting be collated and circulated to the Board for them to identify any specific areas they wanted to be covered in the briefing to help them communicate this to their constituents.


The Board requested that all Councillors be kept updated on the progress of the talks with potential investors in Torbay. 

Resolved (unanimously):


1.         that the contents of the submitted report be noted and the direction of travel for the Future High Streets Fund and Town Deal Fund outlined at the meeting be supported and the proposed reallocation of the £3m from Edginswell Railway Station to Torquay Harbour Projects be also supported;


2.         that an all Member Briefing be arranged on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill once it has been through Parliament in November/December; and


3.         that the Director of Pride in Place, be requested to clarify what action is needed to enable the Neighbourhood Plans to be revised and resubmitted to ensure protection after June 2024, including the feasibility of the Plans going through the required process to coincide with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May 2024.

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