Plymouth is racing into the 21st century as prime time development crops up around the city and leaders thrash out fresh visions for the future.
COVID-19 has parked the brakes on many lucrative projects – but thanks to intricate planning and carefully managed investment there’ll be strategies in place to get things going again once we’re out of the trenches.
There’s much to look forward to in the years ahead, not least the £1billion regeneration of the city centre, the rejuvenation of the railway station, dreamy waterfront schemes, and the lush rebirth of Drake’s Island.
And of course more homes, jobs and leisure opportunities for Plymouth’s growing population.
Plus more is on the way that we don’t know too much about at this stage – as planning applications continue to be processed and decisions are taken over virtual streams.
Here’s a run through of all the mega money plans in the pipeline and what we should expect to see in place come the end of the decade.
Drake’s Island – £22million high-end regeneration of Plymouth’s crown jewel
Ticking along at a steady pace in the background is the exciting £22million rejuvenation of Plymouth wilderness Drake’s Island.
New owner and business mogul Morgan Phillips is confident he can transform the mostly barren landscape into high-class hotel destination.
He has also vowed to keep the doors open to the wider public to stop it solely becoming an ‘exclusive luxury resort’.
The plans ultimately have been hampered by the pandemic – and the overall project is not expected to be realised until 2027.
But the bid has been bolstered by the fact planning permission is in place for high-end visitor accommodation with suites, booths and rooms boasting incredible views over Plymouth Sound.
Consent has been granted for the conversion of the Grade-II listed Barracks and Ablutions block as well as the Casemates, which is officially recognised as an Ancient Monument.
Earlier this year, a proportion of the public had the rare delight of going on guided tours – with proceeds being donated to St Luke’s Hospice.
Sugar Quay – Plymouth’s £60million new tower block
The £60million Sugar Quay tower is expected to be developed after the creation of St John’s Bridge – a £25million residential complex on the eastern most part of land beyond Sutton Road at Sutton Harbour.
The plans form part of the wider ambitions for a ‘new neighbourhood’ linked to Plymouth’s waterfront via a foot bridge.
As reported by PlymouthLive, Sugar Quay would be a staggered-height building created in a distinctive T-shape with seven to 19 storeys of 170 apartments and a ground floor with 30,000sq ft of commercial space for retail and restaurant units bordering an enhanced urban realm.
Images were released last year of the stunning development towering over the seafront. It is planned to be constructed by late 2022.
Plymouth Railway Station – a stunning new gateway and the rebirth of modern travel
Work is racing ahead on the modernisation of Plymouth railway station – which is getting a makeover worth a whopping £80million.
One of the first buildings to get the treatment is Intercity House, headquarters of station operator GWR, which was opened in 1962 by Dr Beeching, the man who later wielded the axe on Britain’s postwar railway network.
In January, GWR moved its staff and equipment out of Intercity House, which will be refurbished by the University of Plymouth to provide a new state-of-the-art medical sciences faculty building to include a ‘halo of light’ that will beam out at night.
The station concourse, opened at the same time as Intercity House, will be given a facelift, with improvements which include doubling the capacity of the existing gateline, and better shops and facilities for passengers.
The whole area around the station is to be known as Brunel Plaza, in honour of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Victorian engineer who built the original Great Western Railway.
The project is expected to create 500 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs.
Plymouth’s Ocean Dome – what’s next for once star-studded restaurant?
A monumental £10million vision for Plymouth Hoe’s landmark building has been mooted by a consortium of entrepreneurs who have made a bid to buy its lease – which has a guide price of at least half a million pounds.
The as of yet unnamed figures have suggested ripping the pile down and starting over.
They’re employed top Plymouth architecture firm ADG to come up with a design for a spectacular three-storey curved building, which would fit seamlessly into the Hoe cliff face.
It would be topped with a grass-covered flat roof which effectively extends the Hoe as well as doubling the size of the floor footprint.
The team behind the project, which would be dependent on planning consent if it secured the lease, said the idea extends to linking the Hoe pathways and creating a spacious building that will make full use of the views over one of England’s most beautiful bays.
The new complex will also include an outdoor concert facility for open-air events, and become the home for a new Sea Horse Trust exhibition.
Take a look back inside the once star-studded attraction – which currently lays abandoned – here.
Derry’s Cross – new landmark hotel, apartments and car park
One of the latest major regeneration projects put forward for the city is for the land between Derry’s Cross and The Crescent, near the junction with Millbay Road.
The derelict site, now partly used for a car park, was once the studios for Westward Television. The site would complete the regeneration of new buildings alongside a major route skirting the edge of the city.
The scheme proposes a 150-bedroom hotel, a block of 90 apartments and a 300-space multi-storey car park in The Crescent. The land is opposite a historic listed terrace dating back to the 1860s, so any development has to avoid harming the setting of the protected building.
Hotel, pub, restaurants and buses right next to the A38
A huge new park-and-ride bus terminal, leisure centre, hotel, pub and restaurants are due to be built on the edge of Plymouth – right next to the A38.
Plans have been approved for the site to be developed at Sherford, very close to the Deep Lane junction, near Plympton.
An outline plan for the area envisage a 7.48-acre retail park containing a 29,750sq ft leisure complex, two drive-thru restaurants, another drive-thru, a pub and a 100-bed hotel. There would also be more than 300 parking spaces.
The retail park would sit next to the park-and-ride and two business park areas, one containing 10 large units, the other 10 smaller units and 14 blocks of offices.
The area has been chosen for a transport hub because it will link the new town at Sherford, and its new retail and business facilities, directly with the Devon Expressway, and thereby link Plymouth to the South Hams, Cornwall and Exeter, bringing a potential economic windfall to the city.
Tinside retractable ‘dome’
Incredible new images bring to life ambitious plans to strap a huge retractable dome over Tinside Pool – enabling it to be used all year round.
The idea has been dreamt up by the same mystery consortium looking to pull down the Dome on the waterfront.
The consortium’s vision for the Grade II listed Tinside Lido, built in 1935 but reopened in 2005 after a £3.4million renovation, involves putting a roof over it and heating the enclosure with solar or thermal energy.
It is part of an even wider vision that would see the installation of water slides and diving platforms, plus water taxi drop-off points and even a small pier.
Millbay Docks – What is ‘Plot C1’?
English Cities Fund (ECf), the company behind the long-term regeneration of Millbay, wants to see an 11-storey block of 58 apartments and a 126-bedroom hotel rise up on land known as Plot C1 off Millbay Road.
Plymouth City Council has bought the lease, for an undisclosed sum, on land at East Quay, currently used as a temporary car park.
The idea is to jump-start development of a planned tower, part of the wider redevelopment of the Millbay docks area, which would see an 11-floor apartment block constructed next to a seven-storey hotel.
The overall development would also include about eight shops or restaurants, possibly set in a series of pitched-roofed spaces next to the waterfront.
COVID-19 has so far thwarted opportunities to begin building work on the site.
Dutch-based Vastint Hospitality has permission to put a 175-bedroom hotel, seven houses and seven studio apartments for short-term rent, on what is now the Pavilions car park close to the docks at Millbay.
Vastint Hospitality applied to Plymouth City Council to increase the number of rooms in the hotel to 200 and to update the design in 2019.
Work was due to start in 2020 on a six-storey hotel for fashionable millennials just yards from Plymouth’s waterfront, but, again, the coronavirus pandemic arrived and work has not begun.
Millbay Boulevard – which is already more than 10 years in the making – will finally come to fruition in the next few years after work started on it earlier in 2020.
Work has been ongoing to turn the rundown Bath Street behind Plymouth Pavilions into a key link between the city and the waterfront at Millbay.
The £2.9million walkway bid has already seen the removal of the Two Trees pub, the Union Street footbridge and The Hub music venue to allow the redevelopment of Bath Street alongside the Pavilions.
The Millbay area is changing dramatically with new blocks of homes overlooking the docks with new shops, restaurants and hotels all expected to open.
A modern Hoe – will the ‘1620 hotel’ ever get built?
The much-anticipated £50million ‘1620 hotel’ was supposed to be ready for 2020 and the Mayflower 400 celebrations – but work ground to a halt with no building work happening for more than two years after developers vowed to crack on in 2018.
Henley Real Estate, the firm behind the plans for an 11-story, 80-bed hotel and a 15-floor block of flats on the demolished former Quality Hotel site, went silent on plans in 2019 and Plymouth City Council could only say: “The council has a contractual agreement with a developer, the terms of which are commercially sensitive.
“However, we are working with the developer to help unlock the development of the site.”
It looks like the site will remain inert unless a new company takes on the site – but 2030 is still a long way off yet and much could happen in the years ahead.
The ‘iron human statue’ overlooking West Hoe
If one thing’s for certain, it’s the fact Plymouth’s on the cusp of getting a brand new 12ft statue symbolising a human figure gazing out to sea by celebrated sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.
The city council approved plans this summer to put the cast-iron stack of blocks weighing almost three tonnes on the West Pier at West Hoe.
The twice life-size statue called LOOK II was announced by the council as one of the key artworks for the opening of The Box museum and heritage centre, and to mark this year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations, although both have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was described by the city council as a “world class” artwork and major cultural attraction for the city by the creator of the iconic Angel of the North at Gateshead, in the north-east of England.
Although the local authority in Plymouth has refused to reveal the cost of the build – claiming it would breach private contract details and affect both their ability to buy and artwork and Sir Anthony Gormley’s commercial position.
Devonport Dockyard – hundreds of new jobs
Details emerged during the lockdown of plans for a major redevelopment of part of Devonport Dockyard, starting with work to allow the newest nuclear submarines to be refitted in Plymouth – and creating more than 600 jobs in the process.
Babcock International Group Plc wants to rebuild the 10 Dock Facility at the yard, including the demolition and construction of buildings, to support the maintenance programme for “new and existing classes of submarine” such as the new Dreadnought-class ballistic missile subs due to arrive in service in the 2030s.