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February 2022

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Published on 10 February 2022

Regeneration plans to transform Newton Abbot town centre and boost jobs

Graphic presentation of what the market hall could look like

This month’s full council meeting will be asked to give its final approval of plans to regenerate Newton Abbot’s market and cultural quarters, protecting and boosting jobs and economic prosperity.

Under the transformational Future High Street plans the landmark Grade II listed Market Hall and Alexandra Cinema building will be returned to its original flexible design, a new 4 screen cinema will be built, pedestrian improvements made to Queen Street and further cycle routes delivered.

The interconnected plans are designed to increase economic activity by boosting footfall in the town during the day and into the evening by delivering a better shopping and visitor experience and by providing vibrant facilities for artistic, cultural and community groups to use all year round.

Executive Member for Business Economy and Tourism Cllr Nina Jeffries said:  “A huge amount of work has been undertaken to identify the best way of implementing these plans and I urge my fellow councillors to support the budget proposals which will enable us to move forward.

“We have been talking about change in the centre of Newton Abbot for some 12 years and it is time to seize the opportunity and use the £9million Future High Street Fund investment to transform the town centre in a way that will bring economic benefits to the area.

“Returning the Market Hall and Alexandra Cinema building to its original design and providing a broad mix of cultural, community and artistic activity will help attract people to the town and make it the vibrant location that we all want to see.

“We will continue to talk to local communities during the detailed design and implementation phase, building on the suggestions and comments made so far”

Since last year’s Council agreement in principle to back the regeneration plans, a specialist team of advisers experienced in markets, performance, architecture and project management have been assembled to identify the best way to implement the transformative plans for maximum benefit.

In addition to participating in recent engagement meetings with market tenants, traders, performance, theatre, arts and cultural community groups, stakeholders were asked to complete a survey indicating what they would want to see from the interconnected plans. 

Overall feedback showed considerable support and enthusiasm for the council’s plans to support the wider economy by making the location work for the widest spectrum of business, community and cultural groups.  Suggestions arising from the feedback will now be considered as part of the detailed planning process.

Alternative plans put forward by the Friends of Alexander Theatre (FoTAT) to retain the Alex as a traditional theatre were also examined by the advisors who concluded that it would be underused, not viable without upfront subsidy and ongoing Council financial support.  It also concluded that many of the elements of the FoTAT plan could be incorporated into the mixed use shopping, food, leisure and entertainment scheme through the use of demountable stages, audience seating and flexible lighting rigs. 

They also concluded that in contrast with the council’s plans, FoTAT’s alternative proposals would not meet the transformative requirement of the Future High Street Fund and so would not attract the funding essential to secure the cinema’s relocation.

The advisors also ruled out a ‘do nothing’ option as this would neither address the need to support existing local trade nor help provide opportunity and space for new businesses. It would also do little to support and grow the evening arts, community and cultural elements which are essential to help boost the local economy and create more job opportunities.

Councillors will be asked to approve the budget to deliver this project at the full council meeting on 22 February and the final detailed plans will require planning consent before being implemented.