In September 2019, the government announced a new multi-million pound Towns Fund.

Torquay is one of 101 towns invited to develop innovative regeneration plans that will help to build a prosperous future for the town.   We heard in October 2020 that Torquay will receive a significant investment of £21.9 million from the Government’s Towns Fund

The Towns Fund will provide the core public investment in Town Deals - additional funding may come from other sources or parts of government. The objective of the Fund is to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth through:

  • Urban regeneration, planning and land use: ensuring towns are thriving places for people to live and work, including by: increasing density in town centres; strengthening local economic assets including local cultural assets; site acquisition, remediation, preparation, regeneration; and making full use of planning tools to bring strategic direction and change.
  • Skills and enterprise infrastructure: driving private sector investment and ensuring towns have the space to support skills and small business development.
  • Connectivity: developing local transport schemes that complement regional and national networks, as well as supporting the delivery of improved digital connectivity

Preparing for a Town Deal

A Town Board was created to oversee the production of a Town Investment Plan. The Investment Plan was submitted to Government in July and is the basis for a Town Deal which allows development of the detailed business cases for the projects to bring transformational investment into Torquay.

Torquay’s ambitions

The Town Deal Board and partners see this a great opportunity to bring transformational investment into Torquay. The aspirations of the Board is to revitalise and regenerate the town centre and surrounding areas.

One of the many projects that would benefit from investment through the deal is the Torquay Strand public realm. Each project within the investment plan would drive forward a better experience in the town centre, provide a better mix of uses, and create a place where people enjoy spending their time.


Our vision for 2030 is:

Torquay is the heart of the English Riviera. A grand, elegant town with a rich history linked to its naturally inspiring coastal, maritime and landscape setting, with a vibrant town centre. This unique setting provides one of the best places to live, work and play in the South West. Connections to London have improved and further enhancements, particularly rail, allow Torquay to be more accessible to investors and visitors from within and outside the town. High quality tourism is one of the leading sectors with an international reputation, and the town is thriving after the Coronavirus crisis. Torquay has a high value health and social care economy linked to the Torbay Hospital improvement programme, and the wider offer of Torbay’s advanced electronics and photonics sector is enhanced by the skills and space on offer in Torquay. Torquay has a thriving business community providing well-paid, high quality employment in a broad range of sectors.


Through the Town Deal and Town Investment Plan, Torquay will deliver outcomes which include:

  • Additional private and other public sector investment
  • More business start-ups, business success and young entrepreneurs
  • New jobs
  • Increasing the number of people living in the town centre
  • An improved cultural and tourism offer
  • Improved health outcomes
  • Reduced town centre antisocial behaviour
  • Less benefit dependency, inequality and disadvantage

In July, the Board delivered a presentation to representatives across Torbay’s community, including the Neighbourhood Plan Forum, the Community Development Trust, and Torbay Town Partnership.

Community Board Presentation
The presentation delivered to representatives across Torbay’s community.

Latest news

Accelerated projects

Torquay Town Deal Board

The board will be the vehicle through which the vision and strategy for the town is defined. It will produce a Town Investment Plan and inform the Town Deal, including the amount of investment secured through the Towns Fund.

Torquay Town Investment Plan
Summary of the innovative regeneration plans that will help to build a prosperous future for the town of Torquay.

The role of the Board is to:

  • Develop and agree an evidence based Town Investment Plan
  • Develop a clear programme of interventions
  • Coordinate resources and influence stakeholders

Read the terms of reference and the minutes of board meetings.

Board members

  • Jason Garside
  • Carolyn Custerson

After gaining a PhD in Laser Physics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Dr Andrew Robertson came to the Bay in 2000 as part of the influx of highly skilled technical people drawn to the area by the global telecommunications giants Nortel and JDS Uniphase, located in Paignton and Torquay respectively. Following the collapse of the bubble in 2002, Andrew decided to remain in South West Devon and was one of the founders of SIFAM Fibre Optics, which has, after its successful sale to Somerset based photonics company, Gooch & Housego PLC, become the largest Hi-Tech company in Torbay, employing over 200 people at a cutting edge, modern facility in Broomhill Way. 

A passionate advocate of photonics and micro-electronics, Andrew has served as a board-member on a number of local, national and international Hi-Tech organizations aimed at creating an effective platform for representing industrial, R&D and other relevant stakeholders in a cohesive manner to enable the fostering of collaboration and innovation as well as providing resources and influence to facilitate the growth of business opportunities. Andrew has served on the board of the SouthWest Microelectronics iNet, Photonics21, the Photonic Leadership Group (PLG). As current Chair of the Torbay Hi-Tech Cluster, Andrew represents a membership of globally renowned companies that employ over 600 people in and around Torbay.

Andrew was intimately involved from an early proposal stage in the successful bid to secure funding for what is now the brand new, £8M, Electronics & Photonics Innovation Centre (EPIC) located at White Rock Business Park, Paignton. Opened in 2019, the EPIC centre provides a modern facility with a flexible mixture of laboratory and office space dedicated to Hi-Tech companies. Andrew is currently Research & Innovation Manager at Bay Photonics, located in the EPIC Centre.

Job Title: Chief Executive  
Organisation: Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) 


David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1mbillion capital investment programme, securing and implementing  £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS” East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Executive of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.

Emma is a Chartered Transport Planner

with extensive experience in transport policy and strategy, development management and smarter choices, as well as project and programme management. As a Senior Associate Director of Transport Planning at Jacobs UK Ltd, Emma has worked with a variety of clients in both the private and public sector, supporting the delivery of projects and programmes across a range of transport modes, including active travel, rail and highway schemes from the initiation through to securing funding and delivery on the ground.

Originally starting her career in Reading, Emma relocated to the South West in 2010. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) and also sits on the South West Committee as the Honorary Treasurer.

  • 46 years as a journalist
  • 40 years with Herald Express, six as editor
  • Editor of Reach PLC Devon Weeklies
  • Current Editor of Torbay Weekly
  • Business Development Manager Wollens solicitors
  • Media/business consultant
  • Member of Torbay Business Forum Executive
  • Chairman of Torbay Together partnership
  • Member of Torbay Destination Management Group
  • Trustee of Torbay Community Development Trust
  • Chairman of Sport Torbay
  • Director of Devon Cricket Board
  • Chairman of Devon Cricket County Age Groups

Working to support and promote arts and cultural engagement across the Bay in collaboration with other cultural partners. Running a curated annual programme across two venues that support local emerging and established artists as well as attracting national and international talent.

Our work supports and aligns with the ambitions of Torbay’s Cultural Strategy and recognises the significant part that arts and culture can play to enrich the lives of those who live and work here as well as to enhance our tourism offer to those visiting the English Riviera.

We also provide opportunities for students in full-time education and run an artist patronage programme to forge strong links between the business and creative sectors in the Bay.

Position: MP for Torbay

Kevin was born in Plymouth and grew up in South Devon. He read Law at Warwick University and was called to the bar by Inner Temple in 2002.

He was first elected as Torbay’s MP in May 2015, then re-elected in June 2017 and December 2019 with an increased majority on each occasion.

In the past he has served on the National Fire Service Management Committee of the Local Government Association, the House of Common’s Public Accounts Committee and been a Parliamentary Private Secretary in both the Cabinet Office and the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. In April 2019 he was appointed as a Minister and Assistant Government Whip, spending 6 months as interim Minister for the Constitution. In December 2019 he moved to the Home Office and is currently Minister for Future Borders and Immigration.

Kevin lives in Ellacombe, near the heart of Torquay Town Centre, and has been a member of the Torquay Town Centre Community Partnership Steering Group. 

Job Title: Director of Place
Organisation: Torbay Council

An experienced local government officer with a marine industry background. A qualified Master Mariner who now provides leadership across a range of Council functions within the Place Directorate of a unitary authority. Part of the Council's senior leadership team, with a track record in delivering regeneration schemes and managing multiple service areas, including joint venture contracts and supporting key strategic relationships, often in a commissioning role. Passionate about transformation and place shaping, with a clear understanding and experience in strategic planning, project management, governance and leadership within communities. A Fellow of the Nautical Institute, a member of SOLACE, a Council Member of the British Ports Association, with boardroom experience in a range of different sectors, including education, tourism, leisure and charitable bodies.

Job Title: Principal and CEO
Organisation: South Devon College

Laurence joined South Devon College as Vice Principal Corporate Services in February 2010, bringing a strong background of strategic leadership and management in the private sector and in education. Beginning his career in banking and finance, Laurence gained significant experience during 17 years in that sector, including as an underwriter of corporate lending to a range of large SMEs and mid-corporates, as an Area Retail Manager, he left the world of banking in 2002 to begin his new career in education.

In 2015 he became Deputy CEO for the College and during the last 10 years he has successfully led professional services at the College, including Business Development, Employer Engagement, Estates & Facilities, Finance, Human Resources, IT, Data & Systems, Commercial Services and Catering & Retail. Laurence has also been instrumental in growing and diversifying College income including successful partnership working and project development to secure bids which have also included in excess of £30m of new capital grants. 

Some of his notable achievements at South Devon College have included the delivery of the £9m University Centre South Devon; £7m South West Energy Centre, £3m South Devon College Sports Centre; and more recently £17m Hi-Tech and Digital Centre. Laurence was instrumental in the College successfully securing achievement of Investors in People Platinum in 2017.

Laurence was appointed Principal and CEO at South Devon College in September 2019 and also holds positions as a Governor, Director or Member of other Boards.

Michael Watson began his career in 1996 in the Bus Service Planning department at London Transport. After five years in Planning and Procurement roles, Michael joined Go Ahead subsidiary Metrobus as the Assistant Operations Manager at their Orpington depot. This was followed by spells elsewhere in Go Ahead, in consultancy and then Arriva. In 2012, Mike joined Stagecoach and has performed a variety of Managing Director and Regional Director roles since then. Having previously managed the South West business between 2013 and 2015, Mike has recently returned as Managing Director, after being Regional Director England and Wales for two years. Mike lives locally in Dawlish with his family.

Job Title: Owner and Insurance Broker
Organisation: West Country Healthcare Ltd

A nursing sister by profession, with a career which spanned over 20 years and nursing posts in Sydney (Australia) to Edinburgh, London, Wales and Germany.

Susie returned to Devon in the 1970’s and married a GP. As a GP’s wife a nursing career was no longer possible due to the responsibilities of being 'on Call' (answering the phone to patients) for her husband at weekends and some nights during the week, as in the 1980’s mobile phones were only just appearing and GP wives were expected to support the NHS in this way.

Consequently, she changed career to administration and retail management and eventually entered the world of health insurance.

After the death of her husband in 1998, leaving her to fend for their 14 year old daughter, it proved a challenging time she moved from being a 'tied agent' with an insurance company to a full time regulated broker.

Susie now works with over 50 providers and offers a diverse selection of insurance policies to her individual and corporate clients all over the world. She works full time with two staff helping with the administration at the offices of West Country Healthcare Ltd.

Being pro-active, energetic and resourceful, as Chair, Susie works with the other directors of the Torquay Chamber of Commerce, now a Limited Company and together they have created a structure that will support and encourage new business into Torquay. The objectives for the current year are to:

  • Act as a conduit between the Council/TDA and Retailers/Hoteliers/all members
  • As a collective, the Chamber has a wide base of expertise and can signpost members where they need assistance
  • Works with the Council/TDA to lobby the Government on various issues

To maintain a level of fitness she walks her two faithful Westies and when time and weather allows spends many hours gardening.

Position: Councillor for Barton with Watcombe

Swithin has been the Councillor for Barton with Watcombe since December 2017, and following the local elections in May 2019 has been Torbay Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Tourism.

Swithin graduated in 1992 with a BA (Hans) in Government and Public Policy, and has worked for former MP for Torbay Adrian Sanders and MEP for the South West Region Sir Graham Watson MEP.

Vince Flower, previously a Director of Shearing’s Leisure Group and former Managing Director of Bay Hotels was born and raised in Torquay. After leaving school Vince took an Ordinary National Diploma in Business Studies at South Devon College, followed by a Diploma in Management Studies course at Plymouth Polytechnic while training as a manager at a local holiday business.

Vince has forty years’ experience working full time in the holiday leisure sector. His first ever job was at Beesons Holiday Centre which was located in Kingskerswell Road in Torquay.

When the Ladbroke Group acquired the local holiday business where Vince worked, it opened up a number of opportunities. He spent eight years managing various holiday villages and catering concessions, including those located at Kew Gardens and the Tower of London for the company.

During his career, he worked his way up through the ranks to become the Managing Director of Shearings Hotels, part of the Specialist Leisure Group. The Shearings business continues to be a very significant contributor to the English Riviera Tourism sector with the business attracting over 50,000 visitors to the area each year. He is passionate about the Bay and greatly enjoyed being part of that industry for so long.  As Managing Director at Shearings, he provided comprehensive oversight of the hotel operations for the 50 hotels located all around the UK with a turnover greater than £70M and employing over 1,600 staff.

He had the great pleasure of representing the group on ABTA’s Sustainable Tourism Steering Committee for ten years, working with leaders from the sector, helping develop and implement world leading policies and standards.

Having spent the ten years on the Board of Governors at South Devon College where he was the Chair up until July 2010, he is now the Chair of the Board of Governors at Torquay Academy. Vince previously served on the Board of TDA and was appointed Chair in 2015.