History could be made at Planning Committee

Exciting plans to celebrate Plymouth’s amazing culture and heritage in a new, world-class visitor attraction have reached a critical stage.

Detailed plans for the £34 million History Centre are to be considered by the Planning Committee when it meets  tomorrow (Thursday 9 June).

Planning officers are recommending the committee approves the scheme which is a stunning combination of conserving the existing Edwardian buildings and at the rear, building new extensions.

The new centre will cover 3,500 square metres and will include exhibition and gallery spaces, including five permanent galleries, five exhibition spaces for local and national touring exhibitions and six spaces for specific artistic projects.
Galleries will celebrate and explore subjects such as Plymothians who have been influential on the world stage such as Drake and Scott of the Antarctic; the city’s relationship with the Royal Navy; life in Plymouth below the waterline, including marine life and shipwrecks; Plymouth’s prehistoric landscape and the West Country’s artistic legacy, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Cottonian collection and the Newlyn School of Artists.

Council Leader Ian Bowyer said: “This is a critical stage for the History Centre. It is a hugely exciting scheme which will catapult our cultural offer into a new league. This huge project will not only transform days out for visitors but for families and friends, researchers and learners here in Plymouth. It will also transform the area around North Hill. It is a very comprehensive project.”

The application has three elements:
• To convert and extend the former library and join it to the museum to form an extended and enhanced museum and archive, with a new entrance onto Tavistock Place. Some annexes and part of the rear of the library would need to be demolished to build new exhibition and study space with an archive above to the rear of the Museum and Library.
• To convert and restore the former St Luke’s Church as a gallery, with a new extension to the side for deliveries of national exhibitions coming to Plymouth.
• To create new public space in Tavistock Place between the Museum and St Luke’s, with new pedestrian links through to North Hill and to Chapel Street creating a more socially vibrant feel to the area.

The proposals will turn Tavistock Place into a public square, something that it used to be before the current museum and library was built. A refurbished St Luke’s to be converted to a large art gallery that will open up Plymouth and the South West peninsula to major touring exhibitions.

Cabinet Member for Culture, Councillor Glenn Jordan added: “This is a massively important project for the city of Plymouth and there’s a lot of enthusiasm from all walks of life in Plymouth for this project. The team has done an enormous amount of work to get this ready for this significant milestone. Now it is up to the Planning Committee to consider this application on its planning merits.”

The Planning meeting will be broadcast on Thursday 9 June from 4pm. Visit http://council.webcast.vualto.com/plymouth-city-council/home

The History Centre brings together a wide range of partners and exciting collections to create a state-of-the-art cultural centre. As well as the Plymouth Arts and Heritage services’ collections, the new centre will house the South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA), the South West Image Bank (SWIB) and selected Naval Heritage Centre collections.

Other partners include Plymouth University (including Peninsula Arts) and it is supported by National Archives, Plymouth College of Art, the Naval Heritage Centre, the BBC, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.