Team appointed for Better Places project to revamp city centre


A design-led consultant team behind some of the UK’s most impressive regeneration schemes has been appointed to lead a multi-million-pound project to transform the open spaces and pedestrian areas around the city centre.

Plymouth City Council has committed £27 million over the next five years to the Better Places project to improve the look and feel of the city centre’s main thoroughfares. The aim is to boost visitor numbers and trade and ensure the city centre looks its best in time for the Mayflower 400 celebrations and beyond.

The consultant team is led by WSP and LDA Design and includes South West and nationally based architects, designers and engineers responsible for work on high-profile projects including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Battersea Power Station redevelopment, the Prince of Wales’s Poundbury development and the 2017 Stirling Prize-winning Hastings Pier.

They will work alongside the Council’s own team in taking visions and principles already outlined in the City Centre Masterplan and Joint Local Plan and turning these into detailed projects.

Better Places will look at streets and spaces in the city centre to improve walking and cycling routes, make areas more attractive for shoppers and visitors as well as encourage more inward investment in retail, leisure, employment and housing into the heart of Plymouth.

Council Leader Ian Bowyer said: “We are pleased to announce the appointment of our consultant team to the ‘Better Places – Plymouth’ project and look forward to working closely with them over the coming years.

“We are at the start of an exciting rejuvenation project for our city and I am looking forward to the next stage, identifying detailed proposals for changes that need to be made and sharing these ideas with the public and our stakeholders.”

WSP and LDA Design bring engineering and urban design expertise to the consultant team which also features a range of specialists for specific areas of the project including Stirling Prize winners dRMM (architecture), RLB Rider Levett Bucknall (project management), Michael Grubb Studios (lighting), Robert Bray Associates (sustainable drainage systems), Robert Bevan (heritage); United Creatives (design) and DCA Public Relations (communications).

LDA Design Board member and project lead Robert Aspland said: “We are very proud and excited to be working with Plymouth City Council on this once-in-a-generation project to revitalise and re-energise tired parts of this historic city.

“There is real excitement in being able to take forward and refresh the vision for Plymouth city centre laid out by Abercrombie and Watson and to take this opportunity to bring new life to these public spaces, help stimulate economic activity and investment and create an attractive destination for shoppers and visitors to Mayflower 400 and into the future.”

Lucy Jones, WSP Project Manager, said: “This project will transform Plymouth city centre, renewing and rejuvenating its open spaces and pedestrian areas in the lead up to the Mayflower 400 celebrations and beyond. We look forward to starting working on it and applying our transportation, civil engineering, engineering and landscape design, arboriculture, building services, and environmental expertise from our teams based in the South West to this transformational project.”

The consultant team, who were appointed through a tendering process, are now moving forward into the next stages of the project which will include consultation with the public and stakeholders and the preparation of a business case to cover the detailed design and construction costs for each of the schemes in the city centre.

Steve Hughes, Chief Executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “We are delighted with this announcement which means a substantial investment by the council in the city centre. It is something we have been campaigning for and, combined with several multi million pound private sector developments, will transform the city centre, bringing in more shoppers and visitors.”

The Better Places initiative comes at a time when Plymouth is benefitting from a series of major investments and schemes already underway in the City Centre and Waterfront area.

This includes the regeneration of Millbay by English Cities Fund with over 400 homes, employment space, a new school, marina and restaurant now complete as well as outline consent for a further 600 homes, more leisure, retail, office, hotel development.

A new coach station has opened, work is well underway on the new £37 million Box – the city’s new history, arts and culture centre on North Hill, a £3.5m refurbishment of the City Market has been completed and a major shop front improvement initiative is underway.

Demolition work is well underway at Bretonside ahead of the construction of the Drake Circus Leisure cinema and food and drink complex.