Plymouth’s plans to improve the city’s welcome for rail passengers and to regenerate the area around the station are under starter’s orders.
The Council’s plans to support the area’s transformation are to be given a green light with Cabinet being asked to approve a £26 million funding package when it meets on 11 September.
Building on the ambitious regeneration plans, GWR, working with the Council and Network Rail, is kicking off design work on proposals for the phased upgrade to the station concourse and customer facilities around it.
The aim would be for the first phase of concourse improvements to make it quicker and easier to use the ticket gateline at the station, and to improve the retail offer on the concourse and the platforms, in line with other stations of the size and importance of Plymouth.
This would be followed by a phase 2 scheme for further improvements to the environment in the concourse, including the concourse entrance and the front of the station. Following a design workshop with the Council, GWR, Network Rail and the University of Plymouth, the project team will work up design proposals for review.
Leader of Plymouth City Council Tudor Evans, said: “This kickstarts a pledge that we made to Plymouth in May that we would deliver a new gateway to Plymouth at the train station with a new entrance overlooking the city, a new car park and more spaces for business and retail.
“We’re leading on this regeneration, moving from the drawing board and concepts to planning real change on the ground. This is an extraordinarily complex scheme, but the timetable for much needed change is coming together.
“It’s really exciting and following hot on the heels of other major city centre projects including The Box and Drake Circus Leisure redevelopment.”
Managing Director for GWR Mark Hopwood said: “This is an exciting project for the city and for the railway. We have now started to operate brand new 10 car long distance trains to Plymouth and Cornwall, and we are delighted with the enthusiasm and willingness of our partners at Plymouth City Council and Network Rail to develop a project at Plymouth that will be great for our customers and will give Plymouth the standard of service and the quality of welcome that a city of its size and stature deserves.
“We are really pleased to have reached this next milestone and to kick off the design work for the concourse, alongside plans for a much improved car park and public realm.”
Later this month a planning application for change of use is to be submitted for Intercity House, which towers about the station, to be entirely rejuvenated and restyled.
The package of work being discussed at the Council’s Cabinet include demolishing the rail incident safety centre (RISC building) on the east side of the railway station to enable a new multi-storey car park to be built.
A new 469 space car park will be built on the site of the RISC building. It will have almost double the capacity of the existing car park, which is not well used as it is unsuitable for many modern cars and will be knocked down.
Also in the pipeline are plans to replace and modernise station staff accommodation, and significant new public space works including a direct pedestrian link to North Cross and the city centre. A new-look entrance off North Cross will also massively improve the pedestrian access to the station.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL said: “The LEP’s Growth Deal includes a proposal to allocate £4.7m to this important scheme as part of the wider funding package. It’s crucial that we create the right conditions for growth in order to raise the productivity of the area, and transport links are a major factor that need our investment. I wish this project every success and look forward to seeing the scheme progress.”
The work is designed to unlock the regeneration of the area around the railway station which, when finished, will massively improve the welcome for visitors and commuters arriving in Britain’s Ocean City.
The number of commuters and visitors coming by train to Plymouth is on the increase but they get off the train here, it’s not the sea or the city centre that greets them, but a grim and dated multi-storey car park.
The timetable for work:
Enabling work to release the new MSCP site including moving staff accommodation
RISC building demolished
New multi storey car park built
Demolition of existing car park
Development of new commercial sites
Public space work
The Council has been working with Network Rail, GWR and the University since 2015 to bring forward this regeneration. Last February the Government announced the project could get around £4.7 million as part of a package given to the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership. The scheme has already received some financial support through the One Public Estate, the Cabinet Office provided £700,000 for feasibility and planning work.
The Department for Transport has been supporting the project.