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A Vision for Plymouth

Plymouth deserves an international reputation as one of Europe's finest maritime cities. A Vision for Plymouth requires much work and its delivery we're pleased to say has already started.


Plymouth is going through a very exciting period in its history. The scale of regeneration taking place is second only to the post war reconstruction period.

'A Vision for Plymouth' has been prepared for Plymouth's Local Strategic Partnership by MBM Arquitectes and AZ Urban Studio under the lead of Barcelona based architect David Mackay.

Launched in November 2003 Plymouth now has a clear vision and knows exactly how it is going to make the vision a reality. Now is the time for Plymouth to announce its news to the nation.

The history

Plymouth has a rich and fascinating history largely based on its seafaring tradition.

Large parts of the city centre were destroyed in World War Two. However this gave the opportunity for a radical new Plan for Plymouth prepared under the leadership of Patrick Abercrombie and published in 1944.

Plymouth now has a new vision for the 21st century and the people of Plymouth are ready to adopt the 'Mackay Vision' with energy and enthusiasm.

The challenge

In the 1990s Plymouth was in a period of decline and its confidence was low. This was due to a number of social and economic factors:

  • A decline in the defence sector
  • Vulnerability in its manufacturing industry
  • Low levels of entrepreneurship
  • High levels of unemployment
  • Inability to attract private sector investment
  • Low incomes and low skills
  • Areas of extreme disadvantage

The opportunity

There are now many major opportunities in Plymouth. Recognised as a regional growth centre, the new vision for Plymouth has cross party and cross sector support.

We've the potential to:

  • deliver accelerated growth, as part of a quality agenda, in line with the Government's Sustainable Communities Plan
  • reassert Plymouth's role as a regional centre
  • challenge intra-regional disparities
  • be part of the European Network of Cities
  • be a city that is confident about itself again

The vision

The form of the public realm must be of the highest quality and a physical expression of the values of society. Every building forms part of the city and can contribute to the scale of enclosure. The street is a shared space and conflicting interests should be accepted as part of urban living.

It's important to retain a memory of place when creating new places and to draw on the legacy of earlier generations.

The city centre

The vision proposes that a greater intensification and density of mixed use development be introduced to include new residential, leisure and cultural evening uses. Improvements to the quality of the built environment and the public realm with improved links to the waterfront:

  • Taller buildings
  • Shared attractive spaces
  • Quality landmark buildings
  • Improved public transport interchanges

The cultural quarter

The vision proposes an area dedicated to cultural facilities and creative industries, which would incorporate the university, museum, library and other cultural activities:

  • Improved links to city centre
  • Enhanced public realm
  • State of the art educational facilities
  • Outstanding buildings

The harbour

Sutton Harbour is the main tourist area of Plymouth and is also a working harbour with a thriving fishing industry. The vision proposes we extend regeneration to the east side of Sutton Harbour and towards the Hoe with a mix of commercial and residential developments:

  • Create landmark buildings at the gateway
  • Improve links to the city centre
  • Enhance the vibrant mix of uses
  • Improve water transport

The waterfront

The Hoe is Plymouth's promenade with spectacular views across Plymouth Sound. It's one of the most impressive natural harbours in the world. The vision proposes:

  • New and refurbished visitor attractions with piers and walkways along the foreshore
  • Water transport links from the Hoe to Sutton Harbour, Millbay and beyond

The dock

Millbay lies close to the city centre and is the western counterpart to the more easterly Sutton Harbour. It has been identified as one of the greatest opportunities for transformation. The vision proposes a major mixed commercial/residential scheme:

  • A new boulevard link to the city centre
  • A centre for marine science and research
  • A new cruise terminal
  • A new mixed used neighbourhood
  • commercial/marine employment uses

The achievements

A tremendous amount has been achieved:

  • Vision principles adopted by the City Council
  • A Design Panel set up based on CABE good practice and chaired by David Mackay
  • Plymouth Regeneration Forum established
  • New public square at Armada Way completed
  • New mixed use 19 storey development approved for the city centre
  • £170m covered shopping mall developed by P&O properties under construction
  • City Centre Company has been formed to create a Business Improvement District (BID)
  • Partnership between the City Council, English Cities Fund, South West Regional Development Agency, and English Partnership has been established for the regeneration of Millbay

The future

Plymouth now aims to:

  • be the prime city for accelerated growth in the far south west, with the potential to raise its population from 241,000 to 300,000 by 2026
  • significantly reduce intra-regional disparities through targeted area action programmes
  • continue to invest in city growth strategy sectors to create new jobs
  • deliver 33,000 new dwellings by 2026, 4,200 affordable homes by 2016 and 17,000 new jobs through 220 hectares of new employment land
  • deliver a radically different approach to transport in the city whilst continuing investment in key road infrastructure projects linked to regeneration priorities