Building work on city centre leisure scheme gets underway

David Pollock of British Land; Councillor Ian Bowyer, Leader of Plymouth City Council and Gary Cramp from McLaren on site at Bretonside.

Construction work is due to get underway on the huge Drake Circus Leisure development at Bretonside.

The £53 million scheme looks set to transform this key gateway entrance to Plymouth City Centre, creating hundreds of jobs as well as a new destination for both locals and visitors alike.

The scheme, which is across the road from the British Land-owned Drake Circus, is being built on the site of the former coach station. The city coach services have already been moved to a purpose-built facility in Mayflower Street which opened last year.

The new leisure development will comprise a 12 screen Cineworld Imax cinema, 15 restaurant units and 420 car park spaces.

David Pollock, Development Director for British Land, said: “We are delighted that the transformation of this pivotal part of the city centre can now begin. Plymouth City Council has been a proactive partner and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the development’s delivery.

“Having exchanged contracts with Cineworld, we are in advanced discussions with a number of exciting restaurant operators, many of which currently have no presence in Plymouth.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Ian Bowyer, said: “This is a huge moment for Plymouth. While other cities have seen developments fall by the wayside, Plymouth has attracted one of the country’s most important and consistent commercial developers.

“Not only have they invested in Drake Circus, but they are cementing their faith in our potential as a city with this project. We are a city that is open to business, open to companies and opportunities that create hundreds of jobs for the people of Plymouth.

“A lot of work has gone into getting to this point and this is a moment to be celebrated. This is a great day!”

Maclaren Construction has been appointed as the main contractor and enabling works are already underway. The scheme is set to open in autumn 2019.

The new cinema will incorporate state of the art audio and visual technology, and will have 12 screens ranging in size from 80 seats to a giant 450 seat IMAX auditoria.

The scheme will create 350 permanent jobs, a large number of temporary construction jobs and will be a huge boost to the city’s night-time offer as well as drawing people in during the day.

The final piece of the legal jigsaw fell into place last week with the conditional offer now formally made unconditional, signalling the end of two years of complex negotiations with the company.

Steve Hughes, Chief Executive of Plymouth City Centre said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in the city and will give us a new contemporary attraction which will help attract more customers and visitors to our rapidly improving city centre. Plymouth is on the up.”

In the last two years British Land also acquired a slice of the city centre in New George Street and Royal Parade and is currently in further talks with the Council about how to make public spaces in and around the development sympathetic and complementary to the rest of the city centre.

The developers and their contractors have been working closely with the Council to draw up detailed project schemes to ensure public and traders suffer as little inconvenience as possible during the 20 month construction programme.

There will be temporary changes in road and traffic arrangements as the building goes up. More details about this will be announced in the next few weeks.

A host of key projects designed to showcase the city in 2020 are already being developed. Work has started to build ‘The Box’ – the £37 million attraction, gallery and museum complex which will become the city’s cultural centre.

Plymouth’s City Market has enjoyed a rejuvenation thanks to a multi-million makeover, demolition has been completed on three buildings which overlook Colin Campbell Court – ahead of its long-term redevelopment, a new coach station has been built in Mayflower Street, Mayflower historic trails are being planned and other public realm improvements are also being planned.

Overall investment in Plymouth in preparing for Mayflower is in the region of £175 million.