Paignton
Neighbourhood Forum

Series

Paignton Renaissance

Title

State of the Beach

Plot

Decades of Neglect

A Typical Day

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On a late summer bank holiday weekend, standing in front of the Paignton Club, and looking down the entire length of the beach; the sky somewhat overcast but still plenty of people milling around the beach with the tide out but slowly moving in. The seaweed on the sand and over the rocks at this end of the beach giving that familiar love it or hate it odour in the air. The overall view is bland.

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The row of cars parked along the wall completely block any view of Paignton Green. When coupled with the ugliness of the old Festival Hall (now the Vue cinema) the eye is forced out to sea or across towards Torquay, or predominantly down to the people on the beach.

From our location we look along the beach, past the pier, on to the Redcliffe Hotel at the far end.

The postcard views of Paignton are long gone. Replaced by an unkempt, uncared for, and definitely unloved, beach.

Apparently Torbay Council has a beach management program, well, you could have fooled this observer.

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The stainless steel railings recently replaced on the curve around to the harbour have been done in a poor way; even the so-called stainless steel is showing signs of neglect.

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We walk down the slipway to the beach; which itself shows decades of repairs and concrete patching. The entire length of the beach all the way past the pier and onto the Redcliffe has three long steps supported by steel girders. (Although you would need your bucket-and-spade to realise that fact).

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In front of us, we see sand that has covered the top two steps and then a lack of sand which exposes rocks, dangerous should a child fall upon them. Or even an adult, when the tide is higher. The word is that these rocks are not natural to the beach: they were dumped there... but by whom?

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No, this is not from an abandoned cove or harbour... this is the centre of Paignton's major tourist attraction.

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As we near the centre of the beach (near the superb Geoplay Park) we see the access steps down to the beach. All three lower steps have been completely covered by sand.

The total of seven steps leading up to the road have no supporting access. Not even hand rails. In wet weather they are nothing than a safety hazard.

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The sand covering the three long steps continues all the way down to the pier. The ugly shipping container positioned on the old iron girders (now partially covered by the sand) provide an added attraction to the beach scene. The danger is evident.

Just who decides that shipping containers add to the positive experience of tourists?

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Unfortunately the mobility access ramp provides no means of actually accessing the sand itself.

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The underside of the pier has clearly seen better days. The top three long steps remain covered all the away along the beach. It is only when we get all the way to the Redcliffe, do we realise the there are three steps under the sand! Such is the height of the sand, is it any wonder that storm weather and the high sand along almost the entire length of the beach, forces the water up and over the almost non-existent wall?

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Paignton's answer to... ?

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We could suppose that the cars are along the Promenade to act as a flood defence barrier?

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Would this view ever have appeared on a picture postcard?

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This is a question of care. Care towards the beach users, and care towards the image of Paignton as a holiday destination.

Christchurch - Fixing a Beach

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Last Updated: Thursday 11 November 2021

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