A new public and private sector partnership has been set up to accelerate economic growth and regeneration in Torbay.

Torbay Council will be working with development partners Willmott Dixon and Milligan to help it drive forward ambitious plans for key sites.

The partnership means the Council will be able to draw on the strength and expertise of businesses with an impressive track record of working with local authorities to deliver regeneration projects across the UK.

The innovative and forward-thinking arrangement is an important milestone in the delivery of the Council’s growth and regeneration programme.

It is also a significant display of confidence in the economic future of Torbay.

The partners will work initially on key projects already awarded UK Government funding in Torquay and Paignton.

The priority programmes are designed to bring confidence, create jobs and homes, and improve the Council’s overall ability to sustain its services.

The schemes are designed to:

  • reshape the town centres;
  • improve the public realm;
  • increase town centre living;
  • reduce the number of empty shops;
  • improve the connectivity of town centres.

Cllr David Thomas, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “This is an exciting announcement that will see a step change in our ability to deliver these schemes.

“We are absolutely focused on accelerating the much-needed regeneration projects to ensure Torbay continues to thrive as a place to live, work and visit.

“There are major schemes already under way which show there is huge confidence in Torbay and a bright future for our towns.

“But we know there are challenges and a lot of work still to do, so the partnership gives a clear signal to everyone that Torbay has an exciting future.

“We are looking forward to working closely with our partners at Willmott Dixon and Milligan to deliver the projects that we all want to see coming to life.

“Our partners understand our values and share our vision about what we want to achieve for our community by providing spaces for them to thrive.

“They recognise the vision that Torbay has developed through the Torbay Story and understand the social value objectives of the Council.

“We have made a lot of progress already, but agreeing this Regeneration Partnership is a hugely significant milestone.

“We are absolutely committed to now push ahead with the economic regeneration that Torbay needs and to turn plans into reality.”

Chris Wheeler, Regional Head of Land and Development at Willmott Dixon, said: “Willmott Dixon, which recently was recognised by the Kings’ Awards for Enterprise in the category of Promoting Opportunity, already has a major presence in the region and is currently delivering the Harbour View Hotel in the heart of Torquay for Torbay Council and the four-star Corbyn Head Hotel on Torbay Road.

“Willmott Dixon is proud to be part of this significant partnership with Milligan and Torbay Council, and we are looking forward to working together to create a catalyst for change across the Bay, continuing and building upon the Council's inspired 'Torbay Story' corporate vision.

“Through this collaboration, we aim to help generate further economic growth, create new job opportunities, and encourage more inward investment into Torbay, so this development will make a lasting contribution to the region’s future prosperity.

“In addition to regeneration, it will also give us the opportunity to deliver important social value initiatives throughout the developments that bring tangible benefits to local people in Torbay. This also includes our focus on supporting the ‘local pound’ whenever possible.” 

Stuart Harris, CEO for developer Milligan, said: “Our whole team is thrilled to be playing a leading role in Torbay’s regeneration story alongside Willmott Dixon. We frequently talk about how critical public and private sector collaboration is to regenerating town centres and big repurposing challenges.

“The partnership we’ve formed brings Torbay the best of the skillsets that are needed for a cohesive and effective regeneration strategy that can be delivered with pace.

“We’re confident that Milligan’s track record in repurposing excess retail space and curating and delivering complementary, mixed-use offers in an innovative and well-thought through way, will help bring the Torbay Story to life.”

Jim Parker, chairman of the Torbay Place Leadership Board, a public and private sector partnership which has been instrumental in creating the Torbay Story programme to promote investment in Torbay, said: “The regeneration of the Bay has been a long time in the making but now we are at the crossroads to the dawning of a new future and more prosperous era for everybody.

"This partnership is absolutely key to that new journey and is a testament to the power of the Torbay Story - especially how it was used to promote the Bay at the UKREiiF event - and the unity and driving force of the Torbay Place Leadership Board. The moment has arrived - now is the time to grab it!”

The creation of the partnership will provide reassurance to investor and occupier markets of the opportunities that exist within Torbay.

The Council will continue to work with its partners to make the case for more Government, public and private sector investment for schemes across the Bay.

From left, Chris Wheeler, Regional Head of Land and Development, Willmott Dixon; Jim Parker, Chairman, Torbay Place Leadership Board; Cllr Chris Lewis, Deputy Leader, Torbay Council; Stuart Harris, CEO, Milligan; Cllr David Thomas, Leader, Torbay Council; Malcolm Coe, Director of Finance, Torbay Council; Anne-Marie Bond, Chief Executive, Torbay Council; Rob Woolcock, Director of Operations, Willmott Dixon.

How the Council reached this point

The path towards the Regeneration Partnership started with the Council’s Town Centre Regeneration Strategy. This led to successful bids for Government funding from the Towns Fund followed by the creation of the Torbay Story led by the Torbay Place Leadership Board.

The Torbay Story involved partners, residents and businesses uniting to tell a forward-looking, positive and compelling story highlighting the great things about the area and the opportunities it can offer to attract investment.

The Council took the Torbay Story, with support from the Place Board, to a number of investor events to raise the profile of the opportunities in Torbay. This included a round table discussion in London in November 2022 as well as attending the UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) in Leeds in May 2023.

This resulted in positive discussions with several developers, investors, and occupiers. Over the summer, two prospective partners brought forward proposals to deliver the Towns Fund schemes.

The programmes in the Town Deal at Torquay (£21.9m) and Future High Streets at Paignton (£13.36m) were awarded UK Government funding in 2020.

The schemes grew out of the aspirations of local communities identified in the Neighbourhood Plans approved in 2019.

The focus on town centres is also in line with the Council’s draft Corporate and Community Plan and Economic Growth Strategy 2022-2030.

But progress has been slower than desired because of a series of factors.

These include the economic impact of the Covid pandemic, the rise in cost of building materials due to ongoing inflation, and changes in the construction sector which mean the Council being asked to accept more risk.

A Board of Council officers and representatives of the partners will report to the Council to provide oversight.

More information about delivery of the individual projects identified as key priorities for the Partnership will follow as detailed programmes are finalised.



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