Council agrees new city centre conservation area

Aeriel shot of the City Centre Conservation Area.

More of Plymouth’s unique post-war architecture will enjoy more planning protection after Plymouth City Council approved plans for a new conservation area in the city centre.

The new designation places Royal Parade and Civic Square at its heart of a new conservation area.

It will take in New George Street to the north; Raleigh Street, Derry’s Cross, Athenaeum Lane to the west; Notte Street to the South; and Old Town Street, St Andrews Cross and abutting the western boundary of the Barbican Conservation Area to the east.

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans, said: “I am delighted we have agreed the new city centre conservation area. As well as being Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth has a wealth of post-war architecture and a rich cultural offer which we are keen to preserve. This conservation area will also help put Plymouth’s history in the spotlight as we lead in to Mayflower 400 and the launch of The Box next year.

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans

“As well as protecting the buildings, the new status mean the area is eligible for funding from external organisations such as Historic England.”

The area forms an important part of Plymouth’s City Centre, which was rebuilt, following its destruction during World War Two, based on A Plan for Plymouth1943 by Professor Patrick Abercrombie and James Paton Watson.

Within the proposed conservation area are a number of Grade II listed buildings including Royal Bank of Scotland at St Andrew’s Cross, the Theatre Royal, Derry’s Clock Tower, the Bank Pub, the Council House and Civic Centre, Catharine Street Baptist Church, the former Barclay’s Bank and Unitarian Church.

There are also buildings, which although not listed, are regarded as ‘local heritage interest which make a significant contribution to the overall character and appearance of the area’. This includes House of Fraser and buildings next to it, the group of buildings between the former Derry’s Department Store and Pearl Assurance Building and the former Reel Cinema.

In addition to buildings, outdoor spaces in this location will also be included such as the Grade II listed Civic Square and the tree-lined Royal Parade.

Councillor Evans added: “We recognised the heritage significance of our city centre and want to ensure that changes we need to keep people flocking here happen, but in a way that preserves and enhances the character of our most significant heritage assets. We believe this designation will play an important part in helping us to achieve what we set out to achieve in the Joint Local Plan, improving the city centre and protecting our heritage assets.”

A recent survey by the Council about the plans had a mix of responses, some of whom supported the designation, some respondents supported it but wanted to expand the area to include the whole of the Abercrombie plan area or the whole of Armada Way, and others objected to the designation.

Becky Barrett, Regional Director at Historic England South West, said: “Historic England is delighted that Plymouth’s City Centre has been designated a conservation area, having long championed the city’s mid-century heritage as something that is unique and of high quality.

“The rebuilding of the city centre to an entirely new street pattern after the devastation of the 1941 Plymouth Blitz was an unprecedented move in postwar Britain – and that bold architecture survives well and is capable of looking great again!

“It is part of our national history – just as the City of Bath famously showcases our Georgian heritage and the City of York our medieval past, the City of Plymouth shows English modernism at its best. Conservation area status will rightly recognise this quality and act as a catalyst for regeneration and investment.”

This map shows the proposed conservation area boundary and buildings of significance .

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.