'GOOD WILL COME FROM DISRUPTION'
From the Herald Express
20 December 2007
Torquay seafront will be shut off to traffic for up to six weeks while £100,000 safety works are carried out at closed-off Rock Walk.A 65-tonne crane is being brought in to remove 35 trees, some weighing 10 tonnes, which have become unstable.It means that all lanes will be closed to traffic from January 28.Work is expected to take three weeks but could take up to six, depending on the weather.
Torbay Council decided to close the road after rejecting other options including flying in a helicopter to take out the trees.The council's senior tree man, Neil Coish, said: "We went to the RAF to lift the trees and fly them out but we would have had to close roads, footpaths and inner seafront up to half a mile out into the Bay and all of Torre Abbey Meadows and it was too expensive."
And despite efforts to shut just one lane, the 10ft base on the crane meant it was impossible, said Mr Coish.But councillors say that good will come out of the disruption with plans to restore the overgrown walk to the original Royal Terrace Gardens, a Victorian tropical garden since lost under the towering Monterey Pines and evergreen oak trees.Torbay councillor for transport and planning, Chris Lewis, said: "Out of bad comes good. It is a shame the trees are going but what we are going to have instead is tropical gardens that will be a highlight of the Bay."When the trees come down and work is done to stabilise the rock, consultants will be coming down to look at how the gardens should be restored. Then plans will be put forward and out to consultation," he said.
Ward member Cllr Jenny Faulkner remembers the former gardens as a child evacuee."I could not be more pleased. It has been a long time coming."Cllr Faulkner said that since the early 1990s, there had been trouble with anti-social behaviour and drug taking shielded from view by the large trees."The top part of Rock Walk was blocked off years ago because of vandalism and because it was not safe."These plans will make a vast improvement to the area. It will open it up and make it safe," she said.Cllr Robert Horne said that this was not a 'repair job but a complete restoration to bring back the gardens to the standard when they were first opened'.
Torbay Chamber of Commerce chairman, Cllr Robert Excell, said that all businesses will be made aware of the diversions during the works, scheduled after the panto season at the Princess Theatre.He said: "They will be informed of the new routes and when the best times are to have deliveries."I believe the benefits of this will far outweigh the disruption," he said.
A public meeting will be held at the Pier Point Cafe on January 16.