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Rock design will be modern take on Victorian glory

Source:Source:English Riviera Geopark Published:Dec 26,2008

Plans to transform Rock Walk into Torbay's newest attraction are going out to public consultation.

Mediterranean-themed planting, a pathway up the rock face with a viewing platform and creative lighting are just a few of the ideas being put forward for Rock Walk (Royal Terrace Gardens) which go out to consultation next week.

Work has started on the essential stabilisation works on the rock face which are expected to take six months.The landscape restoration will follow.A bid has been made to the council's capital fund towards the cost of the restoration as well as to external sources for additional funding.

Ginkgo Projects Ltd, working with Luck Associates, has led a team to produce an outline design for the area for Torbay Council.The plans go on show as part of the week-long consultation event and local residents, businesses and visitors are being encouraged to have their say.

Cabinet member Chris Lewis said: "The ideas being put forward for Rock Walk are very exciting and are aimed at restoring it to a high standard, while capturing the essence of its history, in a contemporary way.

"The outline design is not set in stone and we now want to hear the views of local people and visitors on what features they like and any new ideas they may have before the design is finalised."

Some of the main features of the plan include:

A pedestrian route up the cliff face leading people to a viewing platform and onwards

A Mediterranean planting scheme with low-level planting opening up the area, encouraging people to enjoy the views across the Bay and also deterring anti-social behaviour.

Sensory plants, with distinctive scents and texture, will be used near seating areas

wheelchair access will be provided along the lower gardens, However, due to the steepness of the cliff, it is not possible to provide access up it. All steps will meet disability legislation requirements where possible.

Benches will be set at various points up the cliff face to encourage people to stop, enjoy the view and appreciate the Bay's Geopark connections with use of interpretation boards.

The current stabilisation works are due to be completed early next June and it is hoped to start the restoration works shortly after this.

A flexible, phased approach will be adopted so the work can be done within budgetary constraints and the constraints of the stabilisation work.

For example, the new garden will concentrate on the central area as this needs fewer stabilisation measures. The path system will be designed to be durable, low-maintenance, and well lit.

An artist will be part of the design team working on two key projects.
The first will focus on the planting and garden design, and the second on producing some artwork for the site.

The artist, working with project horticulturalists and design team, will research the history and purpose of the Victorian pleasure garden, focusing on the planting and garden design. The artist will contribute to the final planting selection and garden layout.
Links with other local, regional and national organisations are being investigated.The outcome of this project will be a special artwork which adds to the planting design, interprets the project and informs the public.

The aim is to recreate the experience of being in Victorian pleasure gardens, to meet, stroll and picnic. They were also places where you could learn things, be amused, enjoy the views.The new design aims to provide points of interest along the visitors' journey, to create moments of surprise or reasons for visitors to pause and take in their surroundings.

These artworks will frame or locate a view and will make links between the garden and the area's Geopark status.

The council is keen to find out what features the public like about the current plans, as well as what they don't like and are asking for any other ideas that could be incorporated into the design

Following the public consultation, the vision will be developed to detailed design stage.

The plans and a virtual fly-through will be available for viewing at the Breezes cafe bar, Princess Theatre, today and tomorrow from 10.30am until 3pm. The plans will then be available to view at Torquay Library from Wednesday until Saturday inclusive and on the council's website from today until Friday, December 12.