Motorist despair over loss of parking along Paignton seafront

Motorists have slammed £14 million plans for the seafront transformation of Paignton - after discovering 82 prime parking spaces will be lost. The long-awaited scheme to revamp holiday hotspots near the Pier and in Preston were given the go-ahead this week and hailed as a 'generational opportunity' by supporters.

The overhaul is part of a new sea defence project, with forecasts the area could be swamped by rising seas due to global warming unless specially-designed walls are built. There will also be a new upper promenade with seating terraces with shelters kiosks and cafes relocated.

But while the proposals include 47 new cycling spaces for bikes there will be a hit for drivers hoping to park on the Eastern Esplanade and gaze out to sea. The proposed development would remove 82 standard car parking spaces from Paignton seafront, though there will be eight extra disabled bays.

Readers of DevonLive have had their say on Facebook. Many have responded angrily, saying they will stay away if they have nowhere to park.

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One said: "If the parking is crap I absolutely guarantee we won't visit. I'm not alone there. I don't live in Paignton, our transport infrastructure is utter garbage. So it can look as pretty as it likes if you haven't got people spending in the town it will go the way of Northern coastal towns!"

Another added: "This will be the final nail in the coffin for Paignton, people expect parking and there isn’t hardly any, they will drive around looking for a parking space, can’t find any and then drive of again."

A third said: "We ain't getting any younger and getting rid of yet more parking will seal it for me and I will take me brass elsewhere."

Torbay Council's planning committee unanimously backed the scheme to give two areas of the seafront a new look - Paignton Sands and Preston Sands. The council-owned land sits within a designated flood zone.

The report provided to councillors stated: "It is vital to the regeneration of the town that coastal defences and resilience to chaotic climate events are provided."

A video accompanying the plans showed huge areas of the town centre at risk as sea levels rise. Active Travel England, the government’s executive agency that champions cycling and walking, said it broadly supported the application.

The public consultation raised a small number of objections with loss of car parking top of the list. In future, instead of 209 parking spaces on the Eastern Esplanade there will be 135.

The report says: "The Local Highway Authority have confirmed that the loss of parking is considered to be acceptable given that the application site is in close proximity to Paignton Town Centre and Victoria Car Park (420 spaces) is less than 300 metres away.

"Paignton Railway Station, Steam Railway and bus station are also in close proximity. Furthermore, the loss of parking would enhance the public realm area particularly around the Geopark which would enhance pedestrian safety due to users spilling between the Geopark and beach."

There is currently seaview parking along a section of the Eastern Esplanade between the cinema and the Pier. A computer-generate flyover video of the new plans shows the bays pedestrianised and a cycle path in their place.

Comments objecting the loss of parking include: "I think those in charge have no idea how to run a council most people drive and no parking, no people, just a very nice empty sea front."

Another adds: "Get rid of parking is crazy . Torbay is becoming vehicle unfriendly. Paignton parking is bad already."

There are some voices of support. One says: "Can't wait, it will look so much better and up to date, it will bring so much money in the bay."

Another adds: "Prioritise cars and we get more cars, more pollution and more congestion. Prioritise sustainable transport and we get a better public realm."