A Vibrant and Prosperous City Centre
As many of you know I am incredibly passionate about our fantastic city. I enjoy living and working here and I am proud to be raising my family in such a vibrant and creative place.
This morning I attended the City Centre Company’s Conference ‘Your Changing City Centre’ and what a morning to feel passionate and excited about the coming years for Britain’s Ocean City.
The event was opened by Doug Fletcher, Chair of the City Centre Company. He gave an overview of plans, and described the activity ahead as “one of the biggest investment programmes in Plymouth’s history”. The City Centre Company formed in 2005 and was one of the first BIDS outside of London, but in fact the council has been investing in the City Centre for much longer. The BID now speaks for 650 businesses and as Doug said “with the scale of investment and Mayflower 400 we have a huge opportunity to raise the profile” which will in turn benefit the levy payers.
Plymouth City Council Leader, Ian Bowyer continued to outline all of the investment which is taking place across the BID area, this included:
Mayflower Coach Station and Visitor Hub
First Stop Shop
The Box (hoped to encourage 300k new visitors in 2020)
Investment from British Land with Drake Circus Leisure
Derry’s Store Development
Theatre Royal Regeneration
University City Centre Campus adding vibrancy
Redevelopment of Colin Campbell Court
Railway station – quality gate way to the city
Public realm investment, transforming the environment via the Better Places Plymouth scheme over 5 years from the autumn
Civic Centre developments via Urban Splash
The total investment stands at over 350m and will transform the city centre encouraging hundreds of thousands of new visitors maximising our unique opportunity to complete as much as possible in time for 2020.
Paul Clement then spoke on behalf of British BIDS and I was proud to hear that the Plymouth City Centre BID is celebrated as an inspiration and leader in the industry. Paul often uses Plymouth as an example of how levy payment is an investment which delivers a return. As I have been saying for many years and Paul echo’ed the eyes of the world will be on Plymouth in 2020 and this golden opportunity will only come once in our working lifetime.
Steve Hughes, Chief Executive of the City Centre Company went on to discuss how the high street is developing and how we must adapt to survive. His message was positive, the high street is not dying its changing and Plymouth has a plan. The BID, now in its third term has long worked with businesses and a key goal is to lobby and attract inward investment. Steve’s ambition is to “drive growth and footfall so businesses can thrive”.
Doug highlighted that in 1939 12’000 people were living in the City centre and it is now less than 1000, this decline is being addressed and there are plans afoot to increase population.
I was captivated to hear Stuart Wingfield, Strategic Growth Manager for Plymouth City Council speak. He gave a huge amount of detail on the Better Places Plymouth project, the film was inspirational, the vision is exciting and his team are currently doing a road show to share plans with the community and get feedback. From lighting, green spaces, the city flow, the entire map of the city centre is being transformed. A list is below from one of his slides and I’d encourage residents, businesses and community groups to get involved. View the plans, feed in your constructive thoughts and be proud of Plymouth.
Annalise Walker from British Land talked about why the company believes in Plymouth and has made such an investment, not only with Drake Circus Leisure, but also the purchase of part of the High Street from House of Fraser up through Debenhams and beyond. With a 12 screen IMAX cinema, 14 new restaurants and a Sky Bar I am looking forward to the opening in autumn / winter 2019!
One of the biggest events to take place in 2020 will be the opening of The Box. Paul Brookes, CEO gave a great overview of where the £43m project is heading. IT IS EXCITING! It will be a reason for thousands to visit and something we will all be proud of. It will deliver jobs, a visitor destination, and be a symbol of ambition and innovation. I cannot wait to take my daughters to see the Mammoth and watch their faces as they discover the history on their doorstep in a gallery / museum / creative space that is one of a kind.
Finally Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400 gave an update on plans as 2020 speeds towards us. We have spoken a lot about the opportunity and all of the investment that this global event is unlocking.
I want to lead with passion and say how lucky we are as businesses, residents and community groups that our beautiful city is getting the investment that it deserves. We have always said that 2020 is just the beginning and the Plymouth Master Plan demonstrates that.
This morning’s conference was an exciting boost and I cannot wait to see the developments as they take place in the coming months. Well done Plymouth – what a city!
By Leila Nottage, Director of Marketing