Work has started on a key Resurgam project that will transform the upper end of the city centre and create a series of green and pleasant islands in Plymouth’s shopping heartland.
Contractors are on site to start building new taxis ranks that will replace the rank on Old Town Street. The work heralds the start of a project to transform Old Town Street and New George Street to make a better impression for visitors enjoying two of the city’s new attractions - the Barcode, £50 million leisure complex with a 12 screen Cineworld cinema, 15 restaurants and bars and The Box, Plymouth’s epic new cultural attraction, which is due to open at the end of this month.
It is part of the council’s economic recovery programme which aims to progress major capital projects, which will create jobs and support the sustainable growth of our city.
Cabinet Member for Finance and city centre champion Councillor Mark Lowry said:
“Few cities have seen so much investment in such a short space of time. This part of the city centre is looking a bit tired and dated - this is bring a splash of colour and interest which will make people linger longer. We’re bringing a bit of our native nature right in to the city centre.”
For the first time, designers behind the scheme are giving a bit more detail of what younger visitors can expect to see for them. A new play space is being lined up for an area between House of Fraser and Debenhams for children and parents to play and relax. It’s being designed to reflect the natural environment in and around Plymouth, with a touch of the moors right in the heart of the city centre.
The area will have a curved seat at its boundary allowing parents to enjoy watching children at play and a small performance space is also planned.
Other key features include:
Better connection between Drake Circus and The Barcode as part of the wider link between The Box and the Barbican
An improved identity making the area a more attractive to shop, live and work in
Attractive places to stop and rest for everyone
Replacing single-use Christmas light columns with multi-functional 'smart' columns
New tree planting carefully arranged to allow clear sightlines to shopfronts
Taxis relocated to St Andrews Cross and Eastlake Street, removing conflict between pedestrians and cars
The new rank will have provision for electric vehicles
The programme is a collaboration between British Land (who own Drake Circus and the block which houses House of Fraser and Debenhams) and Plymouth City Council. British Land, which has invested heavily in the city, has permission to create a number of smaller retail pavilions within this space to entice smaller brands. Plymouth City Council has agreed to fund to the public realm improvements and is keen to ensure the area looks as attractive as possible.
New trees and planting is being planned to make the most of Plymouth’s 20th century modernist architecture. The tired old raised planters will be taken out and instead a series of islands, complete with lush greenery and trees will be created to add colour.
Some trees whose growth has been restricted or are not particularly healthy will be going but in their place will be 29 large new trees including Scots pine, silver birch, pin oak, wild cherry and lime will be planted.
As the new trees will be large, between six and eight metres high when planted, it will help add shade and extend the existing tree cover in the city centre. They will be planted in deep tree pits connected to a new separate surface water system, which means they will be better irrigated using rain and flood water.
A lot of thought has also gone into the planting scheme which includes native species such as primrose, cowslip, Lady fern, Scalymale fern and Broad Buckler fern, woodrush and campions to create a woodland edge right in the heart of the city. The new planting will also include many flowering species that will provide a vital supply of nectar for pollinators such as bees.