Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council
Since announcing Resurgam, Plymouth’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan in May the teams here at Plymouth City Council, working alongside our private sector partners have been exceptionally busy putting plans in place to support the city’s recovery.
As we say farewell to the summer now is a good time to reflect back on the past few months and share an update on where we are in our recovery plan efforts and the current state of the city economy.
So what’s the situation?
In August the total number of unemployed people in the city reached 11,020.
Our latest statistics show that 35,000 people in Plymouth have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), that’s 30% of eligible employees in the city. This scheme is due to come to an end this month. This means we’re at a cliff edge and facing a major social and economic challenge for our city.
Our objective for Resurgam is to protect existing jobs and create as many new opportunities for residents as we can during these difficult times.
What have we been doing about it?
We’ve been supporting our key sectors, helping our young people and using the spending power of the council to kick-start the local economy. We’ve created new projects, but we’ve also, importantly, carried on working on some really key activities for Plymouth, making sure that they happened despite the complications and difficulties that Covid-19 has presented.
We’ve achieved some great things so far:
The Box is open! The Box opened to the public on the 29th September and has been exceptionally well received. We’ve had national press coverage including a review in The Times and Exhibition of the week in the Guardian, huge numbers of bookings for our for our Covid-safe timed free entry tickets and have seen extremely positive feedback from the people of Plymouth for our incredible new cultural and heritage attraction in the heart of the city. Customer feedback across all platforms is exceptional for gallery spaces, exhibitions and the fantastic welcome and service from the Front of House team with 64 5* reviews on Google Reviews and 42 ‘excellent’ reviews on TripAdvisor.
We’ve secured the fastest onshore sailing race in the world for Plymouth in 2021 – Sail GP is coming to Plymouth next year. We beat five other destinations to host the British heat of this incredible sailing race, which will see the fastest onshore sailing in the world take place in Plymouth Sound next July. We anticipate that this will attract in excess of 20,000 people to the city and an economic benefit of $24 million.
City Centre renaissance:
We’re investing in the future of our high street: In June we announced our plan for our £25 million bid for the Future High Street Fund in partnership with Urban Splash and the University of Plymouth to rebuild confidence and create a buzz that will bring more people in to the city centre for more reasons, and for longer.
We are delighted to welcome Brewdog to the city who will be opening in the Barcode
We’ve reached a major milestone in the delivery of the £6 million Millbay Boulevard with demolition of the pavilion ramps with a 53% increase in space for pedestrians and cyclists. The route will include 26 new trees, coastal planting, a high capacity SuDS system, a district heat network and priority walking and cycling infrastructure connecting the city centre to Millbay.
We’ve secured £1.99 million from Historic England as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone and commenced delivery of the 4 year programme with our partners POP+ and The Box.
Work is underway to transform Old Town Street: Work has started to transform the upper end of the city centre, with contractors on site to start the project which will transform Old Town Street and New George Street to make a better impression for visitors enjoying The Box and The Barcode.
Plymouth secured £249,000 in the first round of funding for walking and cycling, which has delivered a programme of temporary and permanent cycling and walking facilities. This has been designed to promote cycling including a flagship intervention in Armada Way and the installation of 35 extra cycle lockers to help commuters who want to park and cycle.
Spend 4 Plymouth
We’re keeping pounds in Plymouth: we’ve launched our Spend 4 Plymouth initiative to keep pounds in Plymouth and spend as much as possible locally. We have announced a new 10% increase for our Local procurement target to 53% - which will create £8.2 million GVA and 280 jobs. We’ve changed our council procurement rules to recognise the social value of buying local and have run a meet the buyer event to share the PCC procurement pipeline for major projects.
Skills 4 Plymouth
We launched Skills Launchpad Plymouth: On 12 August ahead of GCSE and A Level results day we launched a platform to support adults and young people with careers and skills advice. Working with partners across the city we have brought together all the support available into a single one stop shop to give people hope and practical choices. Feedback has been great and since we launched we have already supported over 2,500 people. This project has also been praised by the DWP for its innovation and approach.
Build 4 Plymouth
We’re Building for Plymouth: A central pillar of Resurgam is our programme of building and regeneration projects that will create over 2500 construction jobs over the next 2 years. We’ve got hundreds of millions of investments underway, many of which are new projects. We have £50 million of development projects in the pipeline which we hope to announce over the next couple of months.
We’ve secured £8 million of funding from Heart of the South West LEP: This funding will support us to drive forward a series of oven ready capital projects in Plymouth including; Brunel Plaza , development of new business parks, Plymouth Science Park, City College and zero carbon homes. This is a result of our results led approach to Economic Development.
We’ve secured £1.8 million to create 200 new jobs in the marine sector: This funding as part of our Smart Sound Plymouth initiative will help us to create new jobs in the marine technology sector, with a particular focus on autonomous vehicles. This will include a new 5G network being installed in Plymouth Sound, putting Plymouth on the map as a leading player in marine autonomy globally.
Pier Masters House: A restored pier and new Barbican restaurant and bar. This project was enabled, funded and driven by our brilliant Head of Land and Property James Watt. His vision to invest in a neglected asset at risk and attract a great private sector operator is just brilliant.
Broadley Park: We topped out our latest direct development of industrial units which will create 250,000 ft2 of start-up units and 65 jobs.
Langage Phases 3 and 4: We’re out for tender for phase 3 of Langage Business Park and have a feasibility study underway for our fourth and final stage of this important development.
Oceansgate Phase 2: We’ve secured our first tenant for phase two of Oceansgate which will be complete in December. ESL Space and Defence Solutions, a specialist Marine defence contractor will be moving in once it’s complete.
Brunel Plaza contracts have been exchanged: Contracts on Brunel plaza have been exchanged, securing an £80 million regeneration scheme for Plymouth and a new £40 million health campus for the University of Plymouth. An incredibly important scheme for the future of our city, both as a gateway to Plymouth and as a driver of economic growth and jobs.
We’re making great progress with Forder Valley Link Road: Work never stopped during lockdown and we are making great progress in delivering this major transport scheme. We’ve spent £8.6 million on main construction since main works started in January 2020, 83% of this spend has been spent in the local supply chain, and 72% with small businesses. We’ve also planted 2,123 trees, moved 83,000 tonnes of new aggregate for the new link road embankments, poured 4,000 tonnes of concrete and if that wasn’t enough we are about to introduce Beavers as part of flagship conservation work
We have been awarded £3.3 million to make homes in Plymouth more energy efficient through the Green Homes Grant. We are hoping to get this money out promptly and are hoping we have businesses ready to respond.
Work is underway on the delivery of exciting Transforming Cities Fund programme comprising 19 major projects which, by March 2023 will see more than £95 million invested in sustainable transport projects in Plymouth including transformative infrastructure, innovative technology and behaviour change.
Our successful behavioural change programme, Plymotion, has secured a further £500,000 for its continuation in 2020/21. We are offering the following through to 31 November 2021:
Free adult cycle training
A free bike, training and accessories for people struggling to access education, employment and training through our BikeLinks programme.
An intensive school engagement programme
Comprehensive personalised travel planning service
Each month I’ll be sharing a progress update here, reporting on what we’ve achieved, what we’re working on and the issues that the city is facing as we tackle our recovery head on. New projects and initiatives are being worked on all the time, more updates to come next month.