IHBC’s ‘Heritage from the doorstep’: ‘From a totem to an empty shell’ – Plymouth Civic Centre’s future plans revealed

cityscapePlymouth’s Civic Centre has already evolved ‘from a totem of the post-war development of Plymouth to an empty shell’, Plymouth Live writes, and now, as developers Urban Splash have publicised their plans for the abandoned city centre landmark, people can now find out more about the top secret plans for its future.

image S O’Reilly, IHBC

Plymouth Live writes:

Plans are expected to involve a ‘mixed use’ future for the 14-storey block. Speculation has been rife that it could include flats, offices, restaurants and shops. The possibility of the Civic Centre becoming a hotel has also been on the cards in the past.  Manchester-based developer Urban Splash – the firm behind the revival of the Royal William Yard – had promised to reveal all by the end of 2017. But the project has faced delay after delay. Urban Splash has been remaining tight-lipped about what will go on show at today’s public consultation event – but say they plan to turn the crumbling building into a ‘vibrant, cultural location’…

An Urban Splash spokesman previously said: ‘Urban Splash is poised to bring the Civic Centre building back to life.The team behind the award-winning redevelopment of Royal William Yard plan to regenerate the Grade II listed structure, into a mixed-use destination worthy of its iconic status. The people of Plymouth, local businesses and community groups are invited to view the exhibition, chat to the team about their vision, and give feedback. Urban Splash is seeking to consult on its initial designs prior to submitting planning, which it hopes to do later in the summer. More information is being shared, in the lead up to this event, through invitations, posters, media adverts, and updates to social media and the Urban Splash website.’

Urban Splash bought the Civic Centre for a nominal £1 sum from Plymouth City Council in a deal finalised in January 2016. The building had been vacant since 2015 though recently it appears some contractors have been working inside it. It is also understood Dartington-based Gillespie Yunnie Architects, which has worked on several Urban Splash projects including at the RWY, has been involved in the Civic Centre project. The 144,000sq ft office building on Royal Parade/Armada Way was opened by the Queen in 1962, and marked the end of Plymouth’s resurrection after the Second World War Blitz. But by 2007 its ageing interior and problems with some of the concrete exterior prompted Plymouth City Council to consider demolition.

Shortly before the council was to sign a deal to redevelop the site, English Heritage obtained an emergency listing to block the work. Council officers worked with English Heritage architects to agree how the building could be used in future. Plymouth Argyle chairman James Brent was the first developer to be given a crack at taking on the Civic Centre, but after his bid lapsed Urban Splash took it on. Urban Splash has insisted it has been ‘working behind the scenes’ to get the regeneration project off the ground.

From a totem of the post-war development of Plymouth to an empty shell, the Civic Centre has gone through several incarnations. The 14th-storey block was a key part of the rebuilding of the city, conceived almost amid the rubble of the Blitz. Within six months of the destruction of the centre of Plymouth, the city council agreed that a redevelopment plan should be prepared in September 1941. In June 1950, a site was allocated and a study was carried out to find the amount of office space needed. Contracts were signed in 1957 and excavations began the following January, ahead of building starting in August 1958. Construction of the neighbouring Council House started in November, 1959. The Queen opened the Civic Centre on July 26, 1962, with the building coming in at £1.6m.…

Read more….

This entry was posted in IHBC NewsBlog. Bookmark the permalink.