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Eyesore to benefit community

A derelict eyesore that has blighted the centre of Newton Abbot has been bought by the town council and earmarked for community regeneration.

The overgrown site of the former Turks’ Head pub - a junk shop in its final years - has lain empty on Wolborough Street since demolition in 2010. Various commercial redevelopment plans were tabled but none got off the ground. Undergrowth spilled out onto the pavement and rough sleepers went unnoticed for months.

Now the plot has been snapped up by Newton Abbot Town Council for £90,000.

"Acquiring this piece of land has long been an aspiration and I’m delighted to say a deal has now been done," said Chairman of the Newton’s Place Project Board, Cllr Mike Ryan. "Many people mistakenly thought it came with the former St Leonard’s Church which we bought in 2016 as the home for our Newton’s Place museum and community space project. But now we have the land, at the right price, it will serve as a contractor’s compound for Newton’s Place while we consider how best it can serve the town in the long term.

The wider regeneration plans for Newton Abbot are gathering pace and by working closely with Teignbridge Council, community groups and charities we can deliver something that will benefit residents a lot more than additional retail space. Together we can draw up a vision very much in line with repeated calls for a community hub."

The site was acquired from Lord of the Borough, Keith Stokes-Smith, who said: "I’m so pleased to see the town council taking this step. As founder of the Newton Abbot Civic Society it’s not only the town’s heritage I hold dear to my heart but its future too. I wish everyone involved in this project great success as they take it forward."

The purchase coincided with the appointment of award-winning south west construction firm Pollard to carry out building work on the £2 million Newton’s Place.

A large slice of the cost has been covered by £950,000 of National Lottery players’ cash offered by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

With work due to start within weeks, Pollard’s Contract Manager Kevin Jobe said: "We have an enviable reputation developed throughout our 158-year history and are proud to be working with Newton Abbot Town Council to help deliver a major and enduring boost to the town’s cultural scene. We can’t wait to begin."

The photographs show Councillor Mike Ryan with Pollard staff Kevin Jobe, Brian Gately and Niki Stigwood.

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