Relocate to Torbay
PUBLISHED: 14:17 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:38 28 February 2013
Torbay's superb location, excellent choice of schools, and revamped economy is good news for those thinking of relocating to the English Riviera.
"It is an exciting time for Torbay," said Nick Bye, the South-west's first directly elected mayor. Last July, Nick launched the new Community Plan for Torbay, or Mayoral Vision, and already major projects are underway. The £8.8m regeneration of Brixham Fish Market has begun, planning consent has been granted for a new business park at Edginswell and start-up business incubators have been installed by the coach station in Lymington Road, Torquay, and at the former Nortel site in Paignton, which also houses one of the offices of a new high-tech company. "Out of the ashes of Nortel we have a business called Syntech, which is now doing more specialist high-tech stuff, and they are taking business away from China," said Nick.
Whitbread has bought the Belgrave Hotel on Torquay seafront and will reopen it as a Premier Inn in June; Travelodge has bought the former Crest Hotel along the Newton Road, and Peter de Savary has bought the Cary Arms Hotel at Babbacombe, which will be totally refurbished. But Nick recognises there is more to the Bay than holidaymakers. "The important thing, as well as tourism, is to develop other strands of our economy," he said. With that in mind, an extra £42.6m will go into school buildings and children's services, and a proposed casino will create 300 new jobs. Town Dock has been installed by Torquay Marina for smaller craft. The facility is for local and visiting boats and will create much more activity in the harbour," said Nick. "People tie up and spend money in the restaurants." He added: "The key is to inspire investment so that we can have a built-in environment to match the natural environment. You have got to turn that round and I think we are."
Torbay is a major terminus for bus services, and all districts are served by at least one route, even the outlying villages such as Marldon and Stoke Gabriel. Services run to Plymouth, Exeter and Newton Abbot, and the 85 runs from Torquay Harbour through Shaldon and Teignmouth to Exeter. Paignton is the terminus for the Riviera rail line which stops at Torquay and Torre before joining the main South-west route at Newton Abbot. The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway carves through the Riviera's most spectacular scenery to Kingswear, where the ferry takes over to Dartmouth. National Express coaches run from Paignton and Torquay coach stations for London and the north.
Torbay prides itself on its three grammar schools, Torquay Boys' Grammar School, Torquay Grammar School for Girls and Churston Ferrers, which all achieve high rankings in the league tables and rate among the top state schools in the country. Other state secondaries are Paignton Community and Sports College, St Cuthbert Mayne (joint RC and CofE), Brixham College, Torquay Community College and Westlands, which has a grammar stream. Stoodley Knowle is an independent girls' school in Torquay for ages two to 18, which, like the grammar schools, achieves excellent results. Tower House in Paignton is a co-educational independent, taking pupils from nursery to GCSE. South Devon College is a higher education college which has taken over part of the old Nortel site in Paignton. As you would expect of such a large area, there are nursery and primary schools in all the main districts, with a choice of state, independent, C of E and Catholic.
The English Riviera prides itself on its wide, sandy beaches and safe bathing. Around the whole coastline, from Broadsands in Paignton to Maidencombe, there is a beach to suit every taste, whether that is the child-friendly Goodrington, with its seashore centre which runs rockpooling and other beach events, to the more secluded Watcombe and Maidencombe beaches, and the naturist beach at Petitor. If the climb is too steep at Oddicombe, take the cliff railway, which a couple of years ago celebrated its 80th birthday.
Sport and Leisure
Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton and the Riviera Centre in Torquay have fully equipped gyms and swimming pools, and there is a further pool at Plainmoor. Brixham has its own leisure centre and a separate indoor swimming pool. Other gyms in Torquay include Winners 2000, Castle Gym and Aztec at TLH Leisure Resort and new to Babbacombe, One Vision One Fitness (01803 317770). The two main golf clubs are at Churston (01803 845909) and Torquay (01803 314591). Torquay Tennis Club at Shedden Hill takes players from four years upwards (01803 209500). For Cary Park Junior Tennis Club and Marine Tennis Club contact Molly Pope on (01803 325312. You can play football, cricket, squash and rugby throughout the Bay and sail in Paignton Harbour. Croquet is played at Oldway Mansion, Paignton. Various old time and sequence dance clubs meet around the Bay, and there are various drama and singing groups. More information on www.sportfocus.com and www.devonline.gov.uk and click on Community Directory. The latter also gives details of guide and scout packs.
Torquay has the Princess Theatre and the Babbacombe Theatre, which both stage national and local shows. The Little Theatre is the home of Toads Theatre Company. Paignton has its own recently refurbished Palace Theatre, which houses the Torbay Acting Factory for young people. POADS stands for Paignton Operatic and Dramatic Society, and there are various children's dance and drama schools including Stagecoach.
In June, the Torbay Half Marathon attracts runners from all over the country, and August sees the Torquay and Paignton Regattas, which entertain all the family with funfairs, children's activities and fireworks.
Out & About
As a major holiday resort, Torbay is known for its visitor attractions. Living Coasts and Paignton Zoo are natural wildlife parks. Quay West, overlooking Goodrington Sands, is a water flume extravaganza with some adrenalin-busting white-knuckle rides. Babbacombe Model Village is a complete community in miniature, including replicas of local and national places of interest. Bygones is a walk-through exhibition of Torquay life from Victorian times to the Second World War. See how Neolithic man lived 450,000 years ago in the underground caves at Kents Cavern. Torquay Museum has the famous Agatha room. Brixham Heritage Museum shows local life since Napoleonic times, and the replica of Francis Drake's Golden Hind, in the harbour, goes back further to the 16th century.
At Cockington Country Park you can ramble through Manscombe and Scadson woods or browse the craft shops in Cockington Court, perhaps enjoying lunch or tea at one of the cafés. Record numbers of guillemots made their winter home at Berry Head last season and bats have a permanent base in the cliffs. Join the South West Coast Path at Daddyhole Plain in Torquay and walk through some of Torbay's most spectacular scenery to Shaldon. The English Riviera has been officially declared a Geo Park, with designated sites of special geological interest.
What can I get for my money?
Compared with some parts of Devon, Torbay is still relatively cheap and has been singled out by the national press as offering good value for money. "People are moving down here because they like the way we live," said John Couch, who has owned his estate agency in Wellswood for 38 years.
It is possible to buy a one-bed flat for under £70,000, a two-bed for under £100,000, and a three-bed terraced house for under £114,950, all below the stamp duty threshold. Properties near the grammar schools fetch more money, although you can still buy a three-bed semi (some with garage) for under £250,000. Many properties have harbour and/or sea views, and there are some delightful ex-fishermen's cottages in Brixham for under £220,000.