Your views please on Civic Square restoration

We’re finalising our plans to restore and upgrade the Civic Square and want to know what you think.

We’re hoping to start work on the square early next year to restore its most important heritage features, while at the same time re-imagining it for the 21st Century. The project is part of Plymouth’s High Street Heritage Action Zone, a partnership between Historic England and Plymouth City Council. 

Improvements being considered include:

  • New tree planting and works to existing trees
  • Soft landscaping to create an attractive green public space
  • Repairing mid-century design features includig the Hoopla (circular) seating, pool copings and planter seating and restoration of the banded natural stone terrace
  • Repairing the pond to improve water quality, filtration and biodiversity
  • Returning the flagpoles to the square on the original axis
  • New modern seating and street furniture considered to reduce clutter
  • On-street parking spaces at the front of the courts will go to expand the square with new spaces created on Princess Street and more spaces at the Guildhall car park.

This project builds on what the public told us when we presented ideas as part of the Better Places Plymouth scheme in 2018. As it Civic Square is a grade II Registered Park and Garden with unique heritage properties, this project is considered an area of special interest by Historic England. It is part of the civic layout of Plymouth planned in 1956 based on Patrick Abercrombie and J Paton Watson's post-war plan for Plymouth of 1943.

Some of the proposed changes are designed to improve movement in and around this key public area for both cyclists and pedestrians. It will address issues such as narrow pavements and pinch points which hinder movement through the square. Raised edges, kerbs, bollards and parking areas also create obstacles in this key public space limiting access for some people.

The Civic Square is on a key axis for both cyclists and walkers going to and from the waterfront to the station and the east-west connection between the Guildhall and Civic Centre is hindered by parked cars and street furniture. Expanding the footprint of the square will create much more generous shared routes for cyclists and pedestrians.

More cycle stands and lockers are on the cards and there are also plans for a mobility hub, which will provide electric vehicle charge points, e-bikes, car clubs and information on local transport for businesses, the public and visitors.

Councillor Jonathan Drean, Cabinet Member for Transport said: “This is one of Plymouth’s key civic spaces and it is fair to say some of its original impressiveness has faded over the last half century. This scheme is designed to bring that back and to create a sense of pride in a key location in our city.

“It’s also taking into account measures we need to think about to make walking and cycling more attractive as well as improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and congestion. It’s a careful balance and we would be interested to hear what the public think.”

These improvements are funded by the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund along with Historic England Heritage Action Zone funding.

Simon Hickman, Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, Historic England South West added: “Plymouth Civic Square was designed to draw parts of the city together following the devastation of the Plymouth Blitz, linking the Hoe with the City Centre and the West End.

“These days it’s looking tired, but we’re hoping to see its original features restored and that once again it’ll be a place for the city to meet, work, and play. Historic England are proud to be supporting the project through its Plymouth High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.”

Thanks to the Transforming Cities Fund, a number of projects are in the pipeline to make cycling, walking and public transport in Plymouth a more attractive travel option. Two consultations are currently underway about two new cycle routes from St Budeaux to the City Centre and the council is keen from the public, and in particular cyclists or those considering cycling to get involved. 

TCF projects also in the pipeline include cycle routes from the dockyard to city centre, Mayflower Street bus stops and Royal Parade improvements, mobility hubs, major improvements to St Budeaux Interchange.

The proposed work to Civic Square is independent to the work to the Guildhall and Civic Centre, they support and enable each other and are linked by design.

If all goes according to plan, work will start early next year and be complete by early 2023.

The consultation is now underway and runs until Monday 20 December. Feedback can be provided by responding to this consultation or emailing HAZ@plymouth.gov.uk.