04 sea change
Plymouth’s illustrious maritime past is creating the foundation for its future
13 what’s happening
The schemes and plans to turn the city into the region’s top choice for investment
31 healthy, wealthy...
How the medical and healthcare sector is the city’s economic life blood
44 location, location Its coast, moors and climate make Plymouth’s position one of its best assets
Nigel King, Chief Technical Officer, Motorola, Devon
issue one: CONTENTS
04 10 13 18 22 27
Editor: Sarah Herbert email@example.com
Introduction: Plymouth is building on its illustrious past of maritime heritage, innovation and resilience to create a city for the 21st century
Deputy editor: Kirsty MacAulay firstname.lastname@example.org Art editor: Terry Hawes email@example.com Advertisement sales: Paul Gussar firstname.lastname@example.org
Map: An overview of the city, and what’s happening, where
Production: Rachael Schofield email@example.com Managing director: Toby Fox firstname.lastname@example.org
Projects: We round up the major building projects, and their importance to the city’s regeneration
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Tourism & leisure: Plymouth’s location and history mean it’s always been perfectly placed to make the most of residents’, and visitors’, downtime
Medical healthcare: With expertise and premises abounding, this crucial area of the city’s economy is booming
Creative industries: From art to acting to music, the cultural sector of the city is on the verge of a renaissance
Marine industries: For centuries a centre of maritime excellence and innovation, Plymouth is still leading the field
Advanced engineering: Plymouth is already one of the leading high-tech UK cities, and set for greater things
Business services: Spanning every commercial sector, the business of looking after companies is vital to Plymouth’s future
Quality of life: By the sea, plenty of cultural activities, Dartmoor ponies... is it any wonder relocators are moving to Plymouth?
Images: Plymouth City Council, City College Plymouth, Claire Tregaskis for CCP, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, John Hepburn, Roland Levinsky Arts Building - University of Plymouth, Theatre Royal Plymouth, BD 2007, Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group, Plymouth Enginuity, Princess Yachts International, Drake Circus Shopping Centre, Devonport Royal Dockyard, English Cities Fund, DDRC, Christopher Draper, Redrow, Chris Saville - apexnewspix.com, Trevor Burrows Photography - Urban Splash, Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust, Wikipedia, Discovery Surf School, Ralph Rutter/Event Media, Brittany Ferries. Published by: 189 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TB T: 020 7978 6840 F: 020 7978 6837 For Plymouth City Council
Civic Centre, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2AA 01752 668000 Head of investment and sector support Rupert Owen Economic development officer Kate Martin
Marketing and events officer Sara Tapp
“Plymouth has a wonderful natural harbour, offering a great view. But our eyes are set on a sustainable future. That’s what the people of Plymouth want.” Mike Leece, chair, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce “Plymouth is emerging as a rejuvenated place, as a major European city.” David Warburton, area director for English Partnerships in the South West
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The city of Plymouth, with its proud maritime history, is entering its next phase. Paul Coleman looks at how new visions, strategies and economic sectors will spell a new era of prosperity.
lymouth has an illustrious history. For many years unrivalled as a naval base, famously the departure point for the pilgrims to a new life in the New World, and the first city in the UK to build a pedestrianised centre, it has bounced back from adversity many times. Now, after a few years of relative economic slough, proud Plymothians sense that their maritime city is – once again – grasping one of its many historical opportunities to grow and prosper. The late 20th century wasn’t kind to Plymouth, with a decline in the defence industry (its traditional employment base), limited privatesector investment, low levels of entrepreneurship and areas of extreme disadvantage. Its appearance and layout also posed problems. The city suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War, and, as a result, much of its architecture and design remains the product of a hasty reconstruction programme. But in its latest renaissance, the grand-sounding Vision for Plymouth plans to demolish, redesign and rebuild sections of the city so that it can fully capitalise on its unique harbour and waterfront by 2020. Even the city’s football club, Plymouth Argyle, is planning a new hotel and conference centre at its Home Park stadium, hoping to add
to the 11 million visitors and tourists who flock to Plymouth each year. The vision for south west England’s second-largest city was launched in 2003 by David Mackay, renowned British architect and ‘city repairer’, the man largely responsible for Barcelona’s Olympic Village and port renovation. Since then, it has blossomed into a sweeping plan to transform Plymouth’s sometimes austere physical environment and hitherto deprived social economy. “Plymouth is becoming a great place to live, work and play,” says Mike Leece, chair of Plymouth’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a University of Plymouth governor. “A resurgent Plymouth will benefit the rest of Devon, and also Cornwall.” The city’s transformation is underpinned by a strategic partnership between its powerful movers and shakers and a diverse range of people drawn from its local communities. Supported by the city council, the partnership’s aim, broadly, is for the growing catchment population of 720,000 to live and work in a cultured, clean and green conurbation, fortified by a knowledge-based economy focused on industries such as advanced engineering, business services, creative and media, marine, medical, and tourism. In 2006 the Plymouth partnership launched Sustainable Communities, a holistic local economic strategy seeking to drive up economic and social well-being, spread prosperity and cut unemployment.
The vision is being rolled out under the goals of creating a city that is ‘healthy’, ‘wealthy’, ‘safe and strong’ and ‘wise’. A city development company will strategically market Plymouth to increase inward investment, with a £14 million Community Village scheme aiming to transform the prospects for people living in the city’s more deprived East End neighbourhoods. “We want Plymouth to be in the top 10 European cities for investors looking to locate to a stunning waterfront location,” says Ian Thompson, area director of the South West of England Regional Development Agency. To this end, the RDA was a key investor in the £1.4 million Marine Skills Centre in the city, which helps workers develop boat-building skills. New marine businesses – key to the future economy of the city – will also be boosted by the planned Princess Yachts facility at Millbay. The redevelopment of Sutton Harbour, the original Plymouth settlement, and the subsequent transformation of the Royal William Yard by the South West RDA and Urban Splash are also attracting private investors. Inland at Derriford, there are plans to build a £50 million new hospital, designed by Foster + Partners at the Plymouth International Medical and Technology Park. More improvements have started. Armada Way now hosts festivals, entertainment and markets, complete with al fresco eating areas and farmers’ and street markets. A new crossing over Royal Parade was completed in 2004. The £170 mil-
clockwise from far left : Plymouth’s proud maritime past; the £350 million transformation of the once bustling Millbay; new industries are thriving in the city, from hospitality to new technology.
Above and top: The £170 million Drake Circus Shopping Centre, which opened in October 2006, is reviving both the city centre and the retail offer.
lion Drake Circus Shopping Centre opened in October 2006. The Pannier Market in the Independent Quarter is flourishing, full of shoppers looking for locally produced fresh products such as Cornish Brie and Devon Blue cheeses, as is the refurbished Tinside Lido on Plymouth Hoe, the spot where Drake supposedly played bowls before setting sail to defeat the Spanish Armada. The jewel in the crown is the £300 million Millbay development, one of the top 25 regeneration programmes in the UK. Typifying Plymouth’s waterfront city aspirations, Millbay, a once bustling tidal basin port within Plymouth Sound that fell derelict, is set to benefit from a plan to build 2,300 homes and over 70,000sq m of retail space, quickening the city’s progress towards a more diverse economy. And it is diversifying rapidly. Call centres, healthcare, food and drink processing, even chewing gum manufacturing, flourish alongside
traditional industries such as engineering, boat-building and electronics. While employment and wages are below the national average, the spending power of 30,000 students at the University of Plymouth, one of the largest in the UK, has boosted the economy, helping the city position itself as the second largest retail market in the South West, and the 29th in the UK (with an annual retail expenditure of £600 million). The ultimate aim is to generate higher-value jobs, which will necessitate closer ties between the strategic partnership groups and the university. Professor Wendy Purcell, the university’s new vice-chancellor, herself a science graduate from Plymouth, believes the university “espouses the spirit of discovery for which Plymouth is renowned”. It’s going through a period of huge growth: recent new additions include a £40 million education faculty building; the £36 million Roland Levinsky Peninsula Arts faculty (funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the South West RDA), which opened last summer; the £11 million Nancy Astor Building, due for completion September 2008, for health and social work students; and the relocated Peninsula Dental and Medical School, the UK’s first new dental school in 30 years. It is also studying the feasibility of a £40 million marine science and technology centre. This should go a long way towards the sustainable communities strategy’s ambitious targets for population and economic growth, to be helped by regional trends, shown by government statistics, that the South West’s economy is growing faster than the national average. With its economic strength, along with rising house prices, it looks like Plymouth is challenging Exeter’s claim to be Devon’s first city. Rather than comparing itself to Exeter, however, many feel that Plymouth ought to be rivalling London and Liverpool for fortune and fame. It certainly has the history for it. It
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Above and top: The £36 million Roland Levinsky Peninsula Arts faculty opened to students and the public in summer 2007. The building brings together the faculty of arts and of science on one campus, and acts as a gateway between the town and the university.
was the first town to be incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1439, despite having been ransacked and burnt by marauding French, and by 1700, building on its Bronze Age and Roman origins, had grown from being a motley collection of fishing villages into a major town. Later, Plymouth’s strategic Atlantic-facing location and its deep-water anchorages, fed by the Plym and Tamar rivers, ensured its future as a naval port, key to Plymouth’s prosperity, especially during England’s frequent wars with France and Spain. The naval dockyard at Devonport generated a local workforce of seamen and artisans – carpenters, coopers, ropemakers and sailmakers – to supply the Navy’s vessels and crews. Local merchant ship owners enjoyed Navy protection. Plymouth’s history is punctuated with famous visitors: Catherine of Aragon in 1501, Pocahontas in 1616 and Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. It was the port of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620, Captain James Cook in 1722 and solo circumnavigator Sir Francis Chichester in 1967. Another famous Plymothian, Sir John Hawkins, led England towards the morally stagnant but potentially lucrative waters of the African slave trade between 1562 and 1567. Thankfully, in retrospect, despite Plymouth’s advantage of enabling a quick turnaround of the relatively few ships that left Plymouth for the Guinea Coast and the West Indies, it wasn’t nearly as successful at slaving as Bristol, Liverpool and London. Its capacity to process sugar and tobacco never really took off, with the city’s largely poor artisans and labourers unable to afford such luxuries. The Second World War, unlike those of the previous centuries, brought death and distress to the city. Luftwaffe raids between 1940 and 1944 targeted the dockyards, a strategic base in the war for North Atlantic naval supremacy. Remark-
ably, the dockyards escaped major damage. However, the city and its civilians suffered terribly. Some 1,180 Plymothians were killed and thousands rendered homeless. The estimated 250,000 bombs that rained hell on Plymouth during the 31 raids of 1941 destroyed 20 schools and 40 churches. The city’s will remained unbroken. Plymothians proudly rebuilt their city. Yet its growth into a modern city never quite took off, mainly due to the lack of an alternative manufacturing base to build on the Royal Navy presence and maritime economy. And in the 1980s, it also missed out on the spoils of the Thatcher era that led to the ‘yuppie’ revival of other dockland areas in Bristol, Liverpool and London. Patchy economic growth, low infrastructure investment and decay of the city’s post-war, modernist rebuild left a significant section of the population struggling with unemployment and consequential social problems. This is all set to change. “The hiatus which followed the war years is giving way to a dynamic vibrant city,” says David Warburton, area director for English Partnerships in the South West. “Plymouth is emerging as a rejuvenated place, as a major European city.” And the agents agree. “The Millbay regeneration project, Mount Wise [a historic 5ha former NATO maritime site] and the Mackay Vision all add up to an exciting future for the city,” says Ifan Rhys-Jones of property consultant King Sturge, the first national residential agent to open an office in Plymouth. Its head of residential for the South West, Midlands and Wales, Robert Atwell, agrees. “Plymouth is a rising star in the West Country property market,” he says. “The massive regeneration programme presents very exciting opportunities.” However, Leece accepts challenges still remain. Not least the government plans to phase out Plymouth’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund assistance, just one of the areas that could be squeezed by ever-tightening comprehensive spending reviews.
Such challenges will test the strategic partnership’s ability to maximise resources for boosting vocational training and generating high-value jobs. Links with schools and engaging their pupils will prove vital. “Those children will be working and starting businesses during the vision’s timeframe,” says Leece. Plymothians also expect effective public service and demand enhanced transport links and high levels of community involvement in local decision-making. The city is one of 18 ‘empowerment champions’ chosen by the government to ‘reinvigorate local democracy’. “We’ve got to make recognisable progress to keep the community’s support,” insists Leece. “Plymouth has a wonderful natural harbour, offering a great view. But our eyes are set on a sustainable future. That’s what the people of Plymouth want.” ❦
taking plymouth forward
Plymouth City Council leader Vivien Pengelly, also a key member of the local strategic partnership, is genuinely optimistic about the vision and the strategy for the city’s regeneration. “We will be placing the city on the European and international stage. We’ve a fabulous natural environment in which to grow the city’s wealth.” She is also shadow chair of the City Development Company, the body leading Plymouth’s growth, and says the strategy’s success will mean that Plymouth can “drive the economy of the South West”, particularly in the medical and marine sectors. “The city’s marine science companies are internationally acclaimed.” City council chief executive Barry Keel points to a number of innovative projects that are transforming Plymouth. “Millbay, Derriford and the Eastern Corridor all have a unique role to play in our economic future,” he says. Private investors are keen to invest in Plymouth. Drake Circus shopping centre has brought even more national brands into the city, and “Urban Splash has successfully redeveloped Royal William Yard by creating stunning apartments from redundant buildings,” adds Keel. As for involving local people in Plymouth’s regeneration, according to Keel: “We engage with all the communities through consultation events and will also consult residents on the future branding of the city.”
Where the action is An overview of the main project areas in Plymouth, to set its investment opportunities in context
City Centre page 13
SOUTH YARD page 16
MILLBAY page 15
ROYAL WILLIAM YARD page 15
tamar science park page 31
MOUNT WISE page 16
international medical & technology park page 32
SHERFORD NEW TOWN page 14
TAMAR SCIENCE PARK
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL & TECHNOLOGY PARK
SOUTH YARD MOUNT WISE
MILLBAY SHERFORD NEW TOWN
ROYAL WILLIAM YARD
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SOCINVEST08 08 your place at www.socinvest.co.uk, Book by calling delegate manager Kirsten Taylor on 0207 978 6840, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Team discounts available on request.
Charlie Parker Director of investment and performance, English Partnerships
Brian Field JESSICA task force, European Investment Bank
John Holmes Chief executive, Hull Citybuild
Tony Middleton Divisional director of asset and facilities, London Borough of Croydon
Plymouth, renowned as one of the world’s most famous departure points, is now set to become a destination in its own right. Julie Mackintosh rounds up the groundbreaking projects set to transform the city.
CITY CENTRE Until the 1990s, Plymouth’s heart was not a healthy one: uninspiring architecture, poor-quality public realm, tired retail offer deserted after working hours, lack of residential accommodation, little office space and no connection to the waterfront… to name just the main problems. The Mackay Vision in 2003 set out to change all that, proposing greater intensification and density of development with residential, leisure and cultural uses. It also envisaged improvements to the built environment and public realm, with links to the waterfront and – perhaps most controversially – the introduction of tall buildings. The council has been promoting the vision ever since. Last year, Plymouth City Centre Company (set up to deliver the regeneration) unveiled a masterplan by LHC Group to transform the West
End into a vibrant shopping, residential, leisure and cultural district. Setting out 20 specific projects over the next 20 years, the aim is to create a ‘Covent Garden of the West’, with a network of streets, lanes and plazas known for independent shops, markets, cultural activities, bars and restaurants. LHC is also proposing new civic and commercial buildings, as well as a residential tower. In November 2007, city chiefs showed the courage of their convictions by approving the South West’s tallest building for Plymouth city centre, which will act as a catalyst for the transformation of the city centre. Devington Homes’ 39,465sq m £75 million Oceanique will boast living, working and retail space in the North Block, the South Block and the Tower. The 100m, 31-storey, tower will contain 109 apartments above a three-storey restaurant. The eight-storey North Block will have retail and 6,000sq m of office space, while the South Block comprises a seven-storey hotel to the east and 63 apartments to the west.
What’s happening 14
SHERFORD NEW TOWN With up to 5,500 homes planned by 2016 (50% of which will be affordable), 7,000 new jobs, a 207ha community park (considerably larger than London’s Hyde Park), around 67,000sq m of commercial space, 16,740sqm of mixed retail accommodation, three new schools, a wide range of public amenities and the development of road and transport infrastructure, developer Red Tree’s 400ha ‘urban extension’ to Plymouth is nothing if not ambitious. The city council has been talking about Sherford for years now and believes the area will be crucial to realising its goals of population growth from 241,000 to 300,000 by 2026. The government planning inspectorate gave the new town the go-ahead in summer 2007, allowing planning applications to proceed. All being well, Red Tree hopes to be on site this year with the first homes available as part of phase one sometime during 2009.
MILLBAY At 196,000sq m the £350 million transformation of Millbay from partderelict harbour into waterside quarter is Plymouth’s biggest regeneration project in more than 50 years, and will be one of the South West’s top live, work, play destinations. Planners gave proposals by developers English Cities Fund and English Partnerships the green light in August 2007. They include more than 1,200 new homes, two hotels, a marina, offices, shops, cafés, high-quality public spaces, waterfront access and a new boulevard to the city centre – fitting the Mackay Vision of reconnecting Plymouth to its waterside.
Some work had already begun on phase one – Millbay’s first mixed-use scheme – back in October 2006. With 134 homes and 1,900sq m of commercial space, it is due to be complete in summer 2008. Stanhope and Schroders It will include 10 townhouses, as have made much of the well as 124 one- and two-bedroom supposed benefits flats, a quarter of which will be affordof the public park able. The commercial accommodaIt is this aspect tion will occupy the ground floor. of theA arena that the further phase of 123 apartments andfeels has been council misunderstood, or townhouses and 316sq m of business ignored, by its detracspace is likely to follow shortly. The centrepiece of the newtors. “Stanhope and Schroders have made scheme is a proposed 18-storey much of the supposed development on Clyde Quay includbenefits of the public ing speciality shops and leisure uses park included as on the ground and first floors,part with of its proposal,” residential accommodation above and says Tim Pollard, an observation deck on the roof the with council’s cabinet member sweeping views to the open sea and for regenDrake’s Island to the south. eration and economic development. “But at best,this will serve local office workers and those who buy flats right next to the open space. No-one travels into a town centre to use a park. The arena, on the other hand,
a’s communitybased initiatives will be the responsibility of a charitable or nonprofit making organisation, provisionally entitled the Croydon Arena Foundation. The CAF will run the outreach programme as well as events at the arena to raise funds for its chosen charity partner, Nordoff-Robbins, the UK’s largest providtechnology work experience in the community.
ROYAL WILLIAM YARD Just a few minutes from the city centre, residents of the über-cool Royal William Yard live steeped in Plymouth’s seafaring history. Constructed by Sir John Rennie between 1825 and 1831, the 4,650sq m collection of grade I listed buildings served as a giant larder and refuelling point for the Royal Navy until the 1990s. In 1999, the South West of England RDA spent more than £20 million carrying out essential preservation work to the limestone walls, huge timbers and cast iron columns, and in 2002, high-profile Mancunian developer Urban Splash was appointed to regenerate the site. So far, it has transformed the Clarence and Brewhouse buildings into 130 apartments as well as a wintergarden, café and arts spaces, which have hosted concerts and events. The mix of original features and 21st century design appealed to eager buyers who snapped up properties ranging from £180,000 to over £1 million, prices not previously witnessed in the Plymouth housing market. The next residential phase – 79 one-, twoand three-bedroom apartments in the Mills and Bakery, with commercial and retail space – is currently on the market. But Royal William Yard is far from complete: Urban Splash will be working on the 72,000sq m peninsula development for years to come.
What’s happening 16
Stanhope and Schroders have made much of the supposed benefits of the public park It is this aspect of the arena that the council feels has been misunderstood, or ignored, by its detractors. “Stanhope and Schroders have made much of the supposed benefits of the public park included as part of its proposal,” says Tim Pollard, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development. “But at best,this will serve local office workers and those who buy flats SOUTH YARD right next to theowned open by the MoD, and closed Previously space. No-one travels to the public since the Second World War into a town centre to for security reasons, the former South Yard use a park. The arena, Enclave Devonport is now being transon the otherinhand,
formed into a mixed-use development of newa’shomes, office and retail space. communitybasedDeveloper initiatives willRedrow Homes was appointbe the ed asresponsibility English Partnerships’ partner in early of a charitable non- later, in January 2007, 2006 and aoryear profit making organidemolition of the security wall surrounding sation, provisionally South Yard got under way. entitled the Croydon Plans for the site include more than 450 Arena Foundation. The high-quality homes, a community healthCAF will run the outcare centre, new reach programme as supermarket and shops, offices workspace. The historic well as and eventsmanaged at the Market Hall will be retained and key areas arena to raise funds for its chosen have been charity allocated as public open space. partner, Nordoff-Robbins, the UK’s largest providtechnology work experience in the community.
MOUNT WISE Firmac Developments hopes to begin work on its £60 million conversion of the former ministry of defence Mount Wise site – built in the 18th century as a residence for the governor of Plymouth – this summer. The 110,000sq m Devonport development is set to host 450 homes and provide 9,150sq m of commercial floor space, transforming derelict space and creating 250 jobs. The scheme, by 3W Architects with technical input from Scott Wilson, will also provide 1,500sq m of community facilities, including a gym, cricket field and pavilion, small shops, bistro and play areas. The two grade II listed buildings, Admiralty House and Mount Wise House, are to be converted into a hotel and 1,700sq m of commercial space respectively. The nuclear bunker on the site will also be brought back into use as a data storage facility. ❦
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Ship to shore
Plymouth’s maritime past, which has long defined the city, is still playing an important part in attracting visitors. Its natural harbour, Plymouth Hoe and the Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse have long since been big draws, along with waterfront museums and attractions. Now, as Adrienne Margolis discovers, tourism is playing an increasingly important role in regenerating the city. “Tourism is firmly embedded in the economic strategy for the city. It is one of six areas recognised by the regional development authority in a programme launched by Alistair Darling a year ago,” Andrew Huckerby, chair of Visit Plymouth, says. “Our economic strategy is about developing and increasing the amount of business done through tourism. Our goal is to increase the number of workers in the sector to 65% or 75%, and we are well on the way to achieving this target.” Visit Plymouth is the main vehicle for delivering tourism in the city. Its members include Plymouth Attractions Group, the City College Plymouth Centre for Vocational Excellence (COVE), the Chamber of Commerce and the Plymouth Summer Festival, as well as hotels, pubs and restaurants. A current priority is developing cruise liner business. A new £1 million pontoon will be opening in April 2008, enabling tourists to disembark into the Barbican area, home to many of the city’s bars and restaurants. For 15 years Plymouth has been one of the largest conference centres in the region. The main conference and exhibition centre is undergoing refurbishment, due to be completed in 2009. As part of the upgrade, an ice skating rink on the site will become exhibition space. Visit Plymouth is helping to expand this already prosperous area. “We are developing the sector through Conference Plymouth, a group of 18 businesses involved in
hotels and conference centres. We are creating national and international exhibition facilities, and linking up with Exeter and Torbay to bring people to our conference facilities,” Huckerby explains. Another big part of the local economy – 20% in fact – is the hotel sector. In the past 18 months alone, 500 additional hotel rooms have come on stream, in hotels like the luxurious Jurys Inn. “New hotels have added large conference facilities and are very busy. There are at least another three four- or five-star hotels in the pipeline,” Huckerby adds. These hotels are needed all year round in Plymouth for tourist visitors, too, who come to such attractions as the Theatre Royal, Plymouth Hoe, with its renovated lido, and, of course, the city’s many maritime attractions. In May 2008, Plymouth will see its profile and income boosted when it hosts the Transat 2008 transatlantic ocean yacht race. While Plymouth has hosted the race, held once every four years, since 1960, when Sir Francis Chichester won the inaugural race, for the first time this year it had to beat off bids from other cities. It succeeded because of a plan to bring it to the centre of the city at Sutton Harbour, with a race village built in the Barbican area and the fleet of yachts moored in the harbour, for the public to visit for 10 days prior to the race. The event is expected to generate about £1.5 million for the regional economy. “Winning the race is a coup for the city and will be a great curtain-raiser for the Plymouth Summer Festival,” says Nigel Godfrey, managing director of the Sutton Harbour Group. “We will be able to showcase some of the best that Plymouth has to offer.” All this is good news for another key attraction, the National Marine Aquarium, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary at the same time as the race. When it opened, it was the first aquarium in the UK to be set up solely for the purpose of education, conservation and research. “Plymouth has the biggest concentration of marine scientists in the UK. Our role is to be a shop window on to the oceans, particularly with the imperatives of pollution and climate change,” says director Kelvin Boot. “These may be worthy aims but we have to attract visitors. Which means that we have to be continually exciting.” The aquarium attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year, and is a big income earner for the city. “Economists at the university have worked out that in a bad year we ➼
clockwise from left: The scenic Hoe has long been a draw for seafarers and landlubbers alike; Saltram House; Plymouth’s heritage is now set to be part of its revival. “Our economic strategy is about developing and increasing the amount of business done through tourism. Our goal is to increase the number of workers in the sector to 65% or 75%, and we are well on the way to achieving this target.” Andrew Huckerby, chair of Visit Plymouth
top: The National Marine Aquarium, 10 years old in the summer, attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year. above: The awardwinning Drake Circus shopping centre.
contribute £10 million to the local economy and in a good year £20 million. This means that we have paid for ourselves five or six times over,” Boot reveals. The aquarium has also rejuvenated the surrounding area, with a leisure park, multiplex cinema, tenpin bowling facility, and blocks of apartments springing up. “We are a very important part of the fabric of the city,” Boot says. “This is an inventive use for this part of the city, which was run down but is now part of the changing profile of the whole of Plymouth.” “The aquarium has been a huge catalyst for change. Who would have believed that people are prepared to pay £250,000 for an apartment in this part of the city?” The aquarium is a good illustration of the extent to which tourism and regeneration are intertwined in Plymouth. “We are trying to focus resources on parts of the market that give the best return to the local economy,” Huckerby explains. This means that around the revamped leisure facilities, restaurants and shops are doing well too. Many new high-quality restaurants have opened in the last couple of years, Huckerby says, while the award-winning Drake Circus complex in the city centre has transformed shopping. “Drake Circus was built to solve Plymouth’s lack of stores,” says the centre’s managing director Mike Jones. “It was difficult to build in the city centre but we have managed to create 60 new shops and restaurants under one roof. This has proved a big attraction because it is a huge offer in one statement, not a refurbishment.” As well as a flagship Primark, the centre has sought-after shops like Zara, H&M, Coast and Hotel Chocolat, which shoppers previously had to visit Exeter or Truro to find. “People are coming from all over the South West to shop here,” Jones says. Locals are flocking there too. “Our vision was to be
community-based. Our building has become both iconic, and a central meeting place,” he adds. The shopping centre has a high profile nationally as well as locally, after winning two retail industry awards in 2006. This means that despite tougher times for the sector, Drake Circus has been bucking the trend and experiencing an increase in footfall. In common with other attractions in the city, Drake Circus works closely with the rest of the business community, helping, for example, to launch the first Summer Festival in 2007. “We were instrumental in sponsoring that, and it worked well,” Jones says. Drake Circus is also a key supporter of the city centre’s business improvement district (BID), started in 2005. Through this, businesses pay an extra 1% on their business rates which is ring fenced to improve the area. “Research has shown how much it has changed things – we have a much cleaner, more secure city,” Jones says. There is now a proposal for a Tourism and Waterfront BID, which will cover around 600 businesses in the waterfront area. Consultation on the proposal is under way, with a ballot planned for February 2009. All these changes mean that Plymouth is now realising its potential. “It is a renaissance – that is the only word for it,” Boot reckons. “In the last five or six years, people have started to do things instead of just talking about it. We have kept useful links with the past but have stopped looking back and started looking forward.” ❦
One of the world’s leading brands, one of the UK’s most experienced property companies At P&O Estates we are committed to real estate. Our focus is the acquisition, development and management of office buildings, business parks, retail and mixed use regeneration projects in the UK and Europe. Our current portfolio is valued in excess of £1bn and our tenants include many of the world’s leading corporates.
We are part of the Dubai World Group, a holding company that manages the investments of the Dubai Government. We are affiliated with Nakheel PJSC, Dubai’s pre-eminent development company, with $30bn of major projects under development. At P&O Estates, we manage Nakheel’s European investment and development activities.
One of our most prominent local regeneration projects is the development of Drake Circus – an exciting 560,000+ sq ft shopping centre development, right in the heart of Plymouth city centre. Redefining ‘shopping’ in the South West, Drake Circus has successfully put Plymouth on the map as a major retail destination.
As you would expect from such a company, all our projects are conducted with careful consideration of the environment and we strive to achieve the most sustainable forms of development.
Drake Circus, Plymouth
City Square, Carlton House Terrace, London
Chelsea Harbour, London
Hillswood Business Park, Chertsey
With this firm foundation for success, P&O Estates continues to build upon its reputation as a leading property company within the UK.
P&O Estates is affiliated with Nakheel PJSC
Creating the future Plymouth’s geography, next to the sea and far enough from other cities to be individual, along with recent investment means that its creative industries are on the brink of a renaissance. Noella Pio Kivlehan reports.
left: The £36 million Roland Levinsky building at the Peninsula Arts campus at the city’s university. above and top right: The Theatre Royal, one of the best-attended producing theatres in the country.
Plymouth is now embracing its creative side, and it wants the rest of the UK to know about it. Over the past five years, so many organisations dedicated to bringing in and highlighting media, culture and arts have been established in the city that the positive feeling for the sector in the city is at an all time high. However, all those involved want it even higher. Organisations such as Peninsula Arts, Plymouth MediaPartnership and the Theatre Royal, backed by support from Plymouth City Council, have been making huge strides in promoting the creative sector, and want even more national interest. “Plymouth is changing rapidly. There has always been a creative side, but it’s been hidden and we haven’t always been as proud of what we have got,” says Kate Sparshatt, business development manager with Peninsula Arts, a public arts programme working with the University of Plymouth Peninsula Arts faculty, which was set up four years ago. Voicing what is now the general feeling among those in the city’s creative sector, she says: “We had kept ourselves to ourselves, but that’s changing as regeneration combines with a change in thinking. There is now more investment in creative industries and it is clear that Plymouth is becoming proud of itself. Now institutions
like the Arts Council are interested in us, Plymouth is becoming a city that’s engaged.” On a micro level, Peninsula Arts shows how much the city has started to change in its attitude to the creative sector. It was set up by former university vice chancellor Roland Levinsky, to enable the university to engage with the city – its website describes itself as “the cultural umbrella organisation for the University of Plymouth, providing a diverse programme of exhibitions, music, talks and events”. “It was a town and gown vision,” says Sparshatt. “We were established as part of the [university’s] vision to bring the faculty of arts and faculty of science together on one campus.” Just last September the two faculties, which had been split between Exeter and Exmouth, moved into the new £36 million Roland Levinsky building. “This building is a gateway between the town and the university,” adds Sparshatt. City-wide, those in the creative sector believe that Plymouth has a lot to offer other companies and groups. As well as new office space, offering a choice of accommodation, the unique selling point to the creative market is, according to Sparshatt, Plymouth’s geography, with the sea on one side and the city on the other, and its position within the UK. She believes that Plymouth’s distance from other major conurbations gives it a unique selling point. “It means we don’t have to follow trends and we can generate our own [cultural programmes].” ➼
Adrian Vinken, chief executive of the city’s Theatre Royal, apparently the largest and best-attended regional producing theatre in the UK and the leading promoter of theatre in the South West, agrees. “We [in Plymouth] have a quality of life that we should play on whenever we can. The city is about attracting talented people,” says Vinken. He adds that bolstering the creative industry sector is “about knowledge transfer and creativity” and that Plymouth can be a leading city for “media companies that can work telemetrically and which need broadband so where they are physically placed doesn’t matter”. “If you are a graphic designer or production company and you have a choice of, say, Bradford, Milton Keynes, or Plymouth,” he says, “it’s a no-brainer that you’d choose a beautiful city.” Indeed, Plymouth is already gaining a reputation for attracting independent digital TV companies. Vinken highlights the Plymouthbased Twofour Communications, which uses the power of TV and technology to help businesses and public sector organisations manage, educate, sell, entertain and
build brands, as a classic success story. “Five years ago Twofour had 50 employees; this year it’s 250. In 2003 its turnover was £7.5 million; now it is £35 million,” says Vinken. The increasing awareness of the need for individual groups and companies to work together is an aspect Sparshatt is proud of, and something she believes is helping to push the creative industries. “Co-ordination in the promotion of our programmes is becoming very important – it shows that we in Plymouth are putting on a united front. People really want to work with each other,” she adds. This is also the goal of the Plymouth Media-Partnership, which has 858 members including television, film and radio, facilities houses, interactive media, animation, website design and marketing companies, and even music composers. In its own words, PM-P is the “one point of contact for all creative professionals to showcase their services to a wider audience and to collectively attract new business and foster the development of technology, skills and training.” Manager Karen Stockdale is keen to see more investment from around the country. “We haven’t had a huge amount of inward investment – it tends to be more indigenous or new start ups coming through from the various colleges. Although we do have the likes of ITV and the BBC here, it would be good for the city to see a major player set up here.” On a separate wish list, Sparshatt would like to see a “specific dance scene” created. “We could have a venue dedicated to dance, but there’s more scope for contemporary art, which is already happening.” The BA in contemporary dance being launched at the university in September 2008 should be a big help in this area. As Sparshatt sums up: “It is vital that we exist and having a strong cultural programme shows the strength of the city. If you have a strong cultural programme then people will assume you have a strong city.” ❦
left, above and top: The Peninsula Arts Faculty building at the University of Plymouth is at the heart of the city’s creative industries. “We were established as part of the [university’s] vision to bring the faculty of arts and faculty of science together on one campus.” Kate Sparshatt, business development manager with Peninsula Arts public arts programme
THE massive regeneration of the former South Yard Enclave is taking shape with the completion of the first new homes that will form part of an exciting mixed-used neighbourhood.
Transformation of South Yard breathing new life into Devonport The rejuvenation project being undertaken by Redrow to create their ‘Vision’ development has made great strides over the last 18 months, since planning permission was granted to build a new community, complete with more than 450 homes, shops, offices and community facilities. The most recent advance is the opening of a fully-furnished showhome, which will give homebuyers the first opportunity to view the interior of a completed property. It is opening just over a year after the award-winning housebuilder made history when they began
construction and demolished part of a three-metre high security wall that had scarred Devonport for over 50 years, and fragmented a community. Chris Anderson, Regional Project Manager for Redrow Homes (South West), said: “The completion of the first new homes is another milestone in the redevelopment of Devonport. The transformation that is taking place here really is breathing new life into the area. “The site was once part of the town centre, which was heavily damaged by the blitz, until it was requisitioned by the MoD shortly
after the Second World War. We are delighted that prospective buyers are now able to come and see the major progress we have made at the site by looking round a completed property. With the showhome now open, we’re also looking forward to the next important milestone of welcoming our first residents, who are due to move in this spring.” As well as more than 460 new one and two-bedroom apartments, and two, three and four-bedroom homes, the Vision scheme will also include a range of employment, retail and mixed-use development. The designs of the properties at Vision will accentuate and complement the proportions and broad character of the surrounding architectural heritage, and will help to create a diverse and interesting environment with a perfect balance between traditional and contemporary styles. It will include the grade II listed Market Hall and clock tower, which Redrow will ensure is brought back into lively use. The façade of the Midland Bank building will be preserved and again be present in one of the main streets. These two historic buildings will form a link
from Devonport’s proud past to its new, exciting future. The bank frontage, dating from 1922, has been incorporated into the design for Redrow’s first phase and is intended to provide the façade for two of the apartments. The newbuild properties in this phase will be of a contemporary design with brick and render finishes. Currently available at Vision are three-bedroom properties and also elegant four-bedroom townhouses, priced from £174,995 to £223,000. As well as the amenities of Devonport, the development is also close to the coastal city of Plymouth, which enjoys views of the surrounding coast and Devonshire countryside. Plymouth offers a wide range of pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, as well as schools, doctors and shops. For more information on Vision and how to become part of the Devonport community, call 0845 676 0328 or go online at www.vision.redrow.co.uk General information about Redrow and its properties is available at www.redrow.co.uk.
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