Over recent years Armada Way has seen a serious decline in footfall, with many empty shop units. It has features that are in dire need of repair and haven’t been updated since the 80s. There are areas that are unusable or inaccessible, with growing concerns over public safety, which have resulted in virtually no night-time economy.
The area is dated, run-down and in serious need of investment.
Our ambition is to bring a large amount of residential development into the centre, giving new leases of life to tired, vacant buildings, encouraging more people to dwell in and use the city centre both during the day and at night.
The current Armada Way does not encourage investment or inspire confidence from developers.
Plymouth City Council wants to change this and feels that Armada Way deserves investment to put it on a similar footing to other major city centres across the country.
Following the felling of the trees in March 2023, on 19 May, the new leader of Plymouth City Council set out his firm intention to rescue, reinvigorate and renew the city centre and reunite a divided city.
Within hours of becoming the Leader of the Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE overturned the decision of previous Leader, in relation to the Armada Way scheme.
This means the previous scheme will not be implemented.
On the 19 February 2024, the new exciting design for Armada Way was confirmed by Cabinet, following one of the largest listening exercises ever carried out by the Council and a cross-party scrutiny review. This decision gives the green light for further work to be undertaken on the cost of construction.
This design follows the public consultation that was carried out from 17 October – 28 November 2023. Whilst the consultation is now closed, you can still see the proposals and sign-up for further information here: Let's Talk Armada Way | Commonplace
A total of 1,503 survey responses were received during the consultation, with over 96 per cent of respondents living in Plymouth. There were also detailed submissions by local groups and organisations, workshops with under-represented groups and interviews with key stakeholders. You can see the full consultation report here.
The Council’s independent consultation experts ECF identified a number of key themes that came out of the engagement process.
Overall, more nature and greenery was welcomed with specific queries and suggestions relating to translocation, tree species and biodiversity. Parents, grandparents and the business community welcomed the inclusion of the play village. Improved lighting, CCTV coverage and the solar panels were considered positive additions.
There were some specific concerns regarding the cycle path and especially how it would interact with pedestrians. Other themes included: ensuring the pop-up spaces would meet logistical requirements, limited seating in the play area and its size, dealing with antisocial behaviour, disability access across all areas, and queries relating to the long-term maintenance plan of the scheme.
Following extensive review of the feedback received through the survey, written submissions and interviews with key stakeholders, the Council is proposing 10 amendments within the final scheme design, which were scrutinised by the Growth and Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 22 January 2024.
These changes include:
- Retention of two extra existing trees – T007 Cockspur Thorn and T118 – Hybrid Whitebeam which can now be accommodated following changes to the design in their respective locations. This now results in only four trees being translocated from Armada Way to The Park. This responds to the desire of some environmental groups and a large number of individuals who requested that more of the existing trees are retained in their current location to retain canopy cover or fears relating to risk of survival, and or cost of translocating trees.
- Some tree species selection has been modified. This includes changing the proposed single ‘Tree of Heaven’ to a London Plane tree.
- The final design includes an increased amount of accessible green space which is beyond that of the design of the scheme which was consulted on.
- Removal of two east-west pedestrian footpaths to reduce conflict of two separate paths crossing the cycle way at the point of chicane. This will make the space safer for both pedestrians and cyclists.
- Changing of the colour of the granite denoting the cycle way to a dark pink hue to provide a strong visual differentiation to the other pedestrian areas.
- The new scheme will include a considerable amount of extra cycle parking in the form of stands and cycle hoops onto lamp columns.
- Further changes will be made to the pedestrian and cycle wayfinding to enable the cycle way and its use to be very clearly demarcated. This is in addition to the already proposed wayfinding monoliths and in-ground way markers but will include other pedestrian level markers and directional infrastructure. This will make the space safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
- The final scheme includes for the addition of a minimum of one drinking water station on Armada Way which will help reduce the use of single plastics and align with Plymouth’s Plan for Plastics. In addition, fewer plastic bottles could also reduce city centre littering.
- An increased amount of seating has been added to the play village area to ensure that there is enough seating opportunity for parents and carers whose children want to use the facilities. A variety of seating with high backs and arm rests is being added in response to requests from older people
- Defibrillator(s) will be installed on Armada Way. There are currently a number of defibrillators across the wider city centre area, but none on Armada Way directly.
You can still sign-up to receive updates on the website to make you are kept in the loop.
On 26 May 2023 the Council wrote to the claimant’s solicitors asking them to withdraw their legal action, enabling the city to move forward. The claimants only agreed to withdraw their proceedings subject to certain conditions which the Council was unable to accept because it considered they far exceed what the Court would determine as part of this case. Therefore, the Council made an application to the High Court for it to consider bringing an end to the current proceedings on the basis they are now academic.
We firmly believe that as the judicial review (JR) is based on a decision that has been overturned, the decision is therefore academic. Following a consultation on a new design, a new decision will be made.
On 29 June 2023 the High Court wrote to the Council saying it did not agree to our application to withdraw proceedings. Therefore the Council requested a re-hearing to consider the application.
On 14 September 2023 the High Court refused our request for a re-hearing on our application to set aside the legal proceedings. Therefore, the Council will now move forward with the JR process.
On 3 October 2023 we applied to the court to vary the legal injunction, to enable us to remove a tree that has died. Unfortunately, one of the trees (the Willow in the hoarded off compound next to the Copthorne Hotel) has died and needs to be removed as it is unstable and a health and safety risk. Following a secondary inspection from STRAW’s ecologist, the High Court has agreed to vary the injunction to enable the tree to be removed. Expert arboriculturists removed the tree on Friday 27 October, being careful not to damage any of the trees nearby.
On 19 and 20 March 2024 the High Court will be holding the Armada Way Judicial Review hearing. Plymouth City Council firmly believes that this judicial review is based on a decision that has been overturned and the claim is therefore academic, and wrong in any event. We have carried out an extensive consultation on a new proposed scheme for Armada Way and the amended design, that takes into account feedback from that exercise, will be coming to Cabinet for consideration in a few weeks.
On 16 June a cut through between Oggy Oggy and Subway was created, which has been a priority for local traders. Sections of the fencing surrounding the felled trees and stumps were also pulled back – enabling people to pop into shops more easily, widening the footway as well as creating a cut through.
On 29 June the stumps of the felled trees were also removed from the footways between the sections on Mayflower Street / Cornwall Street and New George Street / Cornwall Street, the holes tarmacked and the fencing further pulled back.
On 14 August we announced that preparation work to clear Armada Way is expected to get underway in the next few weeks - with the independent ecologists now using specialist heat seeking technology to see if there are any live bird nests within the felled trees and brushes. More information, and to see a video.
On Friday 15 September, contractors started clearing vegetation, not covered by the legal injunction on Armada Way, to prepare for the removal of the felled tree trunks. The clearance of the overgrown vegetation was necessary to provide clear and safe access for the long-awaited removal of the remaining stumps and felled trees.
On Thursday 23 September, Armada Way was reopened after the successful removal of the felled trees that blighted the city centre for the past six months. A small army of Council staff, contractors and independent ecologists started working at 5am. They carefully checked the tree stacks for any live / nesting birds and ensured that the trees covered by the legal injunction were projected before removing each felled tree and branch from the ground. The team worked solidly throughout the day until 11pm, successfully removing the piles of trees and nearly all of the remaining tree stumps.
The larger trunks were removed from Armada Way and are being kept in storage for potential reuse. The remnants of the remaining felled trees were chipped onsite and chippings are being stored temporarily, before the vast majority being sent to parks and allotments across the city.
From 6am on 24 September, the Council’s street services team were onsite to clean-up the remaining debris. This included mowing, strimming, hand removing any weeds and picking up litter. More information
Independent Review announced
An independent review into the handling of the Armada Way redevelopment has been announced by the Leader of Plymouth City Council.
At the full Council meeting on 27 March, members agreed a recommendation to ask the Cabinet to set up an independent review into the handling of the Armada Way redevelopment, leading up to the decision to fell the trees.