Friday, 22 February 2008

From the Herald Express

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11:00 - 20 February 2008
Flying through the air high above Rock Walk it is easy to see what a huge asset the cliff face garden could be for Torquay - and what a huge headache.Hanging in a bucket suspended below the second largest crane in Britain, the views on a blue February day were truly spectacular over the cliff to Torquay harbour and over the top of the buildings in Warren Road. But the thing that strikes you most as you glide around 70 metres up, is the sheer space that has been opened up on Torquay seafront.
What was once a tree-lined and in summer quite dark, enclosed area has been totally transformed.This week contractors Devon Tree Services from Ipplepen will have taken the last condemned tree out, and it is hoped that the crane can leave on Saturday.But now the real work begins.Clearing the tonnes and tonnes of trees and scrub has uncovered some attractive rock formations, opened up the once popular criss-cross pathways and even rediscovered bridges, seats and paths that few knew existed.But it has also uncovered the precarious state of some of the cliff face, with one chunk of rock having already fallen down to the road.The true extent of any problems won't be known until a full geological survey has been carried out next week. But even from the seafront you can see cracks and fissures uncovered by the clearance.Then there is the question of how to handle the remains of decades of leaf litter, plant debris, fallen tree limbs as well as the dozens of drinks cans and hypodermic needles which the tree men have had to contend with as they scramble up and down the steep cliff.It is something Torbay Council will be considering when the tree and scrub clearance work is completed, expected to be before the deadline of March 7, thanks to the good weather.
Now as you walk along the relative safety of the wide level pathway below Warren Road, the panoramic views that have been opened up down to the harbour, with Living Coasts, the piers and beyond, must be among the loveliest in Britain.It is a view that will have been revealed for some of those living in lower floor flats in Warren Road, where developers are hard at work creating luxury apartments out of former run-down hotels.And now that it has been cleared, it is easy to see that Rock Walk could be a major asset to the town's residents and visitors as somewhere to stroll and linger - if the challenges of securing the rock face, carrying out the repairs needed to paths and bridges, and suitable replanting and long term maintenance can be resolved.From the top of the crane, the layout of the maze of paths and bridges become clearer and as we scrambled up and down some of the rocky, uneven paths, you could just imagine people being attracted to its south facing slopes with ringside views over the tops of the seafront trees out to the water beyond, whether there are power boats, sailing boats, or other events in the Bay.It is hoped to have one side of the dual carriageway open to traffic during next week.But nobody can yet say when Rock Walk itself will be opened to the public.Torbay Council has paid the first £120,000 phase of the work out of the council's repairs and maintenance budget. The cost of any necessary work identified from the geological survey including repairs to bridges will be assessed. This could be in the region of £600,000. The council is being asked to approve a capital budget of £2.25million for structural repairs and maintenance to many of the council's key assets, of which Rock Walk is one.With mayoral approval, phase three will follow and will be the landscape design work and planting. There is currently just over £60,000 available from a number of section 106 agreement payments from developments in Warren Road available for phase three, some of which has already been spent on the concept plans.

If you click on this link it takes you to the article in the paper which has some photos and video footage.

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Notes about the blog. Updated 08 March 2008

Not much is happening at Rock Work now. All the work clearing the trees has been done. A barrier has been erected to prevent rock falls from reaching the road. Now we wait for the geological survey in May to see what can be done to fix the rocks in place.
After that when work starts again later in the year I will post more photos.
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