Work starts today on the city’s flagship marine development, Oceansgate.
Council Leader Ian Bowyer will dig the first turf to mark the start of the Phase 1 build of the country’s only Marine Enterprise Zone, which forms a key part of the Plymouth’s plans to grow its flourishing marine sector.
The first phase entails the construction of two and three-storey buildings at the entrance of what will become a Marine Industries Production Campus in Devonport.
Designed to be flexible for industrial as well as office and workshop space, the buildings have been arranged to reflect the historic nature of South Yard as well as the street pattern just outside the boundaries. The buildings are of a high quality using a number of natural materials such as limestone and meet the highest environmental standards.
Councillor Bowyer said: “An enormous amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to transform an underused site into a hugely exciting scheme that will help Plymouth play to its strengths.
“We have some extraordinary marine businesses, research and education organisations here in Plymouth which employ over 13, 000 people. Innovative businesses are developing new technologies and products right here in Plymouth and we want them to stay here as well as attract more.
“Right from the start during the build phase, this scheme will make a difference for local families as the construction project will employ over 90 people. That’s wages going into people’s purses and being spent in our shops and businesses.”
The £7.7m project – which is being funded by the Council and Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership – could house office, design suites, testing labs and training rooms for technology development and prototype production spaces as well as workshops for engineering and manufacturing.
There will also be 32 parking spaces for the office block and 28 spaces for the area around the industrial units. Landscaping is also planned, including moving the historic capstan which used to haul the ships into the docks to the front of the site to celebrate the site’s maritime heritage.
Phase 1 aims to attract businesses involved in marine innovation and will have access to deep water. It will see the creation of 1,140 m2 of office space and 1,293 m2 of light industrial space arranged as two terraces. Negotiations are well underway to develop a marine business technology centre, will be housed in this Phase 1 development.
Steve Hindley, chair of the Heart of the South West LEP said: “Oceansgate is one of the Heart of the South West’s Enterprise Zones offering economic opportunities for Marine industries which is one of the key sectors in our strategic economic plan. Other sectors – Environmental Futures and New Nuclear – will be the focus of the Enterprise Zones at Huntspill and Exeter.
“The Enterprise Zones will benefit the whole of the Heart of the South West economy as the sites are strategically sited along the M5 to Plymouth transport route and will generate jobs and growth throughout the area. Oceansgate is also earmarked for funding from the LEP’s Growth Deal to build on the public and private sector investment already secured.”
Alan Hope, Chief Executive of the Midas Group, said: “South Yard is one of the region’s most significant regeneration projects and Midas is delighted to be delivering the first phase on behalf of Plymouth City Council. This employment-led scheme will create a sought-after business environment which is in keeping with the architectural history of the Yard.
Our close collaborative working with the Council and architects Form Design means we will be providing for future phases by installing all the necessary services and we are delighted to be playing our part in the Building Plymouth initiative by taking on local apprentices as part of the city’s target to create 10,000 additional construction jobs by 2020.”
Oceansgate is the anchor project for the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal, a pioneering programme covering Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset designed to bring significant and long-lasting economic growth to the far south west, creating over 9,000 jobs over 15 years.
Oceansgate covers a 35-hectare complex and features three docks – ranging from 84m to 145m long – which are suitable for many marine industry dockside operations and offer marine specialist companies a unique expansion opportunity.
The dry dock facilities can be reinstated and the site has the capacity for deep water testing. Significant interest has already been generated in the site and the Council has invited informal expressions of interest from marine businesses for all or parts of Phase 3
JLL have been appointed property agents to market Phase 1 and a business briefing highlighting opportunities will take place on 22 February. There have already been over 100 expressions of interest from marine businesses and organisations.
Businesses located to Phase 1 can take advantage of benefits offered by the Enterprise Zone particularly business rate discounts.