The review of the investigation of the removal of palm trees from the Italian Gardens will now be discussed at Torbay Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board on the 10 April 2024.

This is so a full response can be provided to the questions that have been submitted that make up the key lines of enquiry. It will also enable the Board Members an opportunity to consider the answers received to these questions.


A review of the investigation into the removal of palm trees from the Italian Gardens, Torquay, will be taken to our Overview & Scrutiny Board on 13 March 2024.

In December 2023, 40 palm trees were removed from the Italian Gardens. The removal was carried out by our wholly owned company, SWISCo. The palm removal was included in the first phase of an ongoing landscaping scheme at the Italian Gardens. The scheme intends to bring about a rejuvenated formal garden, supporting Torquay and the wider area’s quality of green spaces.

The palms removed were Cordyline Australis (Cabbage Palm) with a lifespan of 50-70 years in UK horticultural settings and, while they tolerate salty air, the coastal setting is not ideal for the palms to thrive. Most of the palms removed were around 50 years old and displaying signs of advanced decline, evident by the presence of die-back in the top of the palm.

The removal of the trees raised significant concern from local people, visitors, and the media. Consequently, our Chief Executive was asked to review the circumstances that led to the works being carried out. The review will determine if and how the actions were approved and identify any issues with the controls in place at the time. Moving forward, the review will allow us to make recommendations on how internal processes can be improved for future initiatives.

Cllr Adam Billings, Cabinet Member for Pride in Place, Culture & Events and Parking for Torbay Council, said; “The review is a welcome response to the concerns raised following the removal of the palms.

"Whilst the revised planting scheme offers a long-term solution to this key public space in Torbay, the initial removal of the palms was not planned or communicated to the expected standard.

"The review will allow us to improve our processes for similar schemes in the future."


To read the report on the review please visit our Overview & Scrutiny Board webpages and open the agenda reports pack.

A fly through of the landscaping is available on You Tube - Italian Gardens Concept.


For more information, and to find links to updates on progress at the Italian Gardens, visit the SWISCo Italian Gardens pages.


We would like to thank people for their patience as we review our process, and while improvements to the garden take place.


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