Paignton the 'forgotten' seaside town to become envy of the South Coast

One of the advantages about living in Bristol is that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to family days out, excellent restaurants and long walks with glorious scenery. And, while we do not have our own beach, there are plenty to choose from just a short drive down the M5.

There are some such as Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon or Sand Bay less than an hour away, but the Devon and Cornish coastlines are only a little further away too. And it seems we're going to have another desirable destination, less than two hours from Bristol, when we want to play in the sand and enjoy fish and chips by the sea.

Devon's fourth largest town, long-overlooked reports Devon Live, is set to be regenerated with plans to boost tourism. This will include a rooftop ice rink, a giant climbing wall and a massive regneration of the town centre.

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As well as investing millions into Paignton, part of the plans have seen an old shopping centre being demolished and it has been proposed to pedestrianise a route from the train station to the beach.

Campaigners for the regeneration of Paignton have said if all the proposed changes go ahead it will be the best seaside resort on the South Coast. The huge changes are down to £13.6million from the Govenment's Future High Streets Fund.

Not everything is decided for the future of Paignton. There is a grassroots campaign to transform an old, disused car park, which would see an ice rink opened on its roof as well as plans to save a Victorian-era mansion, Parkfield House and its surrounding park and garden.

Allen Johnson, a local campaigner, said back in 2022: "Paignton is not recognised. You think because it's the fourth largest town in Devon it would be up there when it comes to funding.

"The council has this Future High Streets Fund and instead of them looking separately at four different projects - we want them to link them together because then it will make a much bigger difference.

"We see ourselves as sitting between the council and the community - trying to direct the council when they are making these big decisions so that they take in the community's thoughts and feelings.

"If we had left them to build the sea wall we would have ended up with this huge big concrete wall along the whole of the Esplanade. Thankfully that didn't happen and the options they are looking at now are better. We think they can build an aesthetically pleasing sea wall, maybe with curves and steps and seating in it."

This article was first published in July 2022 and was updated in June 2024.