Call to convert Living Coasts to open public space

Call to convert Living Coasts to open public space
Living Coasts and Beacon Cove cc-d-sa/2.0 by Derek Harper


The former mayor of Torbay has put forward a request to convert the defunct Living Coasts Zoo and Aquarium to open public space as part of the rejuvenation plans for this coastal town.

Gordon Oliver suggested the creation of a public park with a space for events and seating as part of the continuing plans to regenerate the popular holiday destination on the Devon coast.

Work has already begun in Torquay as part of the £22 million Town Investment Plan. The Plan includes improving the facilities and infrastructure to attract visitors. Torquay was a popular destination until the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have put the coastal town’s economy in the doldrums. The local government is trying its best to restart the economy.

Mr. Oliver was keen that the Living Coast area be converted into a landscaped public space. This area on the headland has been an area for entertainment and leisure for several years.

During the Victorian era, this area was known as the Ladies’ Bathing Cove. The Torquay Marine Spa started in 1857, had a concert hall, a ballroom, a sunlit conservatory, and private bathing facilities. There was also a large swimming pool that overlooked the sea.

The pool closed in 1971 after a child died there. Later it was developed as a Coral Island but was abandoned by the late 1980s.

In 2003, the area was taken up on a 125-year lease by the Wild Planet Trust to create the Local Coasts Zoo and Aquarium, which was a popular attraction. The park had a covered aviary for seabirds and local coastal wildlife, including penguins, seals, terns, and tufted puffins.

The pandemic caused a drastic fall in footfalls. The Trust finally decided to close Local Coasts in June 2020.

Mr. Oliver hoped this area, situated on a scenic outcrop overlooking Beacon Cove, could be put to use in the future to garner more visitors.

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