‘Halo of Light’ skyscraper for Plymouth

Plans are moving forward to transform a ramshackle Plymouth city centre skyscraper into a medical campus complete with its “halo of light”.

Work started in 2020 to convert the towering Intercity House, at Plymouth’s main railway station, into a University of Plymouth campus called Intercity Place, with the building reconfigured and refurbished inside and out, and topped with a ring of LED lighting.

Now, new plans have been submitted to make minor material amendments to the overall plan and vary some conditions around materials and pedestrian accessibility, with comments able to be received until January 26, 2021.

But filed alongside this are some startling new images of how the revamped building will appear, drawn by architects at Plymouth’s Stride Treglown practice.

They show how the smart new exterior will look when new cladding is added to the dilapidated 59-year-old block.

And they reveal the position of the “illuminated ‘halo’ light” which will ring the top op the building. This will be raised above the top floor of the 42m-high building, making the tower stand out at night and acting as a beacon for the city.

But it appears from the drawings that plans for a glazed top floor viewing room and “sky cafe” have been abandoned.

The University of Plymouth signed a lease to take over the 11-storey monolith from Network Rail, last year.

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It is intended that the finished development will create a “striking and welcoming” entrance to Britain’s Ocean City, part of an overall £80million redevelopment of the railway station, which will also see a new hotel and multi-storey car park created on the site.

Once completed, Intercity Place will house inter-professional clinical skills facilities for the university’s Faculty of Health and be used to train future nurses, midwives, paramedics, physiotherapists, and other allied health professionals.

There will also be additional educational services, enabling staff to work together in one location to support the future health workforce.

An image of the wrapper on the former Intercity House at Plymouth railway station
(Image: Stride Treglown/University of Plymouth)

Planning consent to change the use of the building for educational use, and to fully renovate the building, has already been granted with permission also given to install scaffolding and to wrap all elevations during the construction phase.

The Intercity Place project forms part of the university’s wider Campus Masterplan, which outlines plans to invest in its campus and the city over the next decade.

Documents submitted to Plymouth City Council reveal how a new multi-storey car park, a hotel, and two further University of Plymouth campus buildings are planned, with a ramp to the main campus nearby. There are also two patches of land earmarked as “development sites”.

A document filed by transport consultants Atkins concludes that a Pedestrian Accessibility Audit has been undertaken based on discussions with the local highway authority.

New drawings for Intercity House show where the ‘halo of light’ will be
(Image: Plymouth City Council)

It said: “Available pedestrian routes have been identified and reviewed during a site visit undertaken during the university term-time.

It is considered that the existing pedestrian infrastructure and facilities can accommodate the increase in pedestrian demand generated by Intercity House, though it has been suggested that there are some opportunities for improvement which could be considered by Plymouth City Council in their maintenance strategy, or in the development of the Plymouth Station masterplan.”

Opened in 1962 by Dr Richard Beeching, Intercity House was constructed by British Rail between 1956 and 1962 to the designs of architects Howard Cavanagh and Ian Campbell as part of the post war reconstruction detailed in A Plan for Plymouth, put forward by Sir Patrick Abercrombie at the request of Plymouth City Councillors.

Plymouth Live