Shoppers in the city centre for the Christmas Lights Switch-On will get a sneak peek of how New George Street will look.
Contractors Morgan Sindall have been working around the clock to get the first phase of the scheme outside House of Fraser ready in time for the big festive switch on.
And with the solid hoardings now taken down people can get a real sense of progress on this major landscaping scheme.
The construction of the three rain gardens beneath the ground is now complete and work above ground is well and truly underway. The first two gardens are being planted, there’s new trees – alders and birch – and seating walls are in place and will shortly have timber seats with backs and handles installed. New granite paving has also now been laid in this section.
After the big day parts of this area in front of the department store will be fenced off again to enable concreting to be carried out so that stepping stones through gardens 1 and 2 can be installed and rain garden 3 completed. This middle section will then open up to the public while more paving takes place.
Councillor Mark Lowry, City Centre champion and Cabinet Member for Finance said: “I hope people will be reassured by what they see and can now get a sense of what’s coming for this important shopping street. I know the contractors have been working non-stop to get to this stage and there’s now a real sense of pace.”
Chief Executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company Steve Hughes said: “It’s great to see such progress and investment in our public areas. I’d like to thank the traders for being so patient during this work and hope that Plymouth residents will come out in force tonight and in the following weeks to help our businesses.”
Work beneath the surface on this phase has now finished and included the creation of rain gardens. These are big holes that have been dug in the ground, then reinforced and layered with material so that at times of heavy rainfall, the tanks can hold water, helping to reduce the risk of flooding. They act like a giant plant pot, storing water to irrigate new plants and trees that will be part of the new landscape.
The rain gardens range in size from 16 cubic metres to 30 cubic metres and can handle up to 54 cubic metres of rainwater. And if there’s more rain, there is now a new storm sewer deep beneath New George Street to take the excess and keep flood water from combined sewer system.
The new storm sewer system is a series of large plastic pipes – the largest 1.5 metres across and acts as a storage system during heavy rain, holding around 215 cubic metres of rainwater and releasing this gradually via a constrained outfall,
As well as the rain gardens there will be five more traditional gardens and other seating areas.
Recent revisions to the scheme include more seating and more trees to be planted. There will be a total of 28 semi mature trees which are more resilient to an urban setting as well as the four existing large mature trees.
Above the surface new granite paving is going to be laid to make the area much more attractive, less dated and tired and reduce the likelihood of trips and falls. There will also be new street lighting, decorative lighting to create a wow factor after dark and improved CCTV coverage,
The scheme includes an events space at the junction of Old Town Street and New George Street, equipped with power and capable of supporting small events and performances.