An uninviting route into the West End of the City Centre looks set to be transformed with landscaping.
The steep, unattractive concrete ramp leading from Western Approach is to be replaced with a path that will snake more gently down towards Market Way. The path will have handrails and be surrounded by coastal grass landscaping. Granite paving will also be laid along the path and both entrances of the scheme.
Council leader Ian Bowyer has given the go-ahead for the Council to borrow £215,000 to deliver the scheme with the developer, Aspire Student Living 3 Ltd, who are redeveloping the former Comet building at the corner of Mayflower Street and Market Way.
He said: “It’s fair to say this entrance into the West End is not particularly inviting and the redevelopment of the former Comet building has given us the opportunity to make it look much more attractive.
“The bus stops on Western Approach next to this site are well used, but the current ramp is incredibly steep and not great for people in wheelchairs or for those who struggle to get around.
“This project will make their journey into the city centre a lot easier as well as make this entrance a lot more welcoming.”
As well as improving access and providing a safer, more attractive pedestrian route into the West End, the Council hopes that the improved appearance will encourage more investment in the city centre.
The scheme is expected to cost £430,000 in total and the Council is to cover 50 per cent of the costs.
Work could start in September and be finished in time for Christmas. It comes just ahead of the Council’s new Better Places programme which will see £27 million investment in the city centre. The Council is about to appoint a team of urban designers to begin work on plans which will transform some key streets in the city centre in time for our Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020, ensuring that the city centre will look its best for that year.
Chair of Plymouth City Centre Company Doug Fletcher said: “We’re pretty excited by this. It’s a short route, but lots of people use it and it could be so much more welcoming than it currently is.”
The work would be administered by Aspire Student Living 3 Ltd and would be carried out once the main contract for the former warehouse building is finished. The design for the new landscape setting to the building has already been negotiated and agreed via the current planning permission and the quality will be assured through the Section 278 highways approval process
Richard Pillar of Aspire Student Living 3, said: “As local developers we are delighted to be working with Plymouth City Council to help improve the fabric of the city.”
A developer agreement is being drawn up and heads of terms agreed in principle.
Last week the Council gave the go-ahead to approve funding for consultants to work up ideas as part of its new ‘Better Places – Plymouth’ programme.
It will look at all streets and spaces in the city centre to improve walking and cycling routes, make the more tired areas more attractive as well as encourage more inward investment in retail, leisure, employment and housing into the heart of Plymouth.
Key projects underway in the West End include the City Market refurbishment as well as the demolition of buildings that surround Colin Campbell Court.