Enormous new skyscraper could be built in Plymouth city centre

-Credit: (Image: Submitted)
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)


Plans have been revealed for a 30-storey tower and three other buildings with gardens on the roof to be built on a derelict piece of land in Plymouth city centre. Developers envisage buildings containing 300 flats and a hotel on the 1.5-acre former ITV television studios at Derry’s Cross.

The proposed development, to be called Crescent Green, would also have commercial space in what is being described as an “exciting, new, mixed-use urban quarter”. The plan is for four buildings, although one is linked to the dominant 30-floor skyscraper by a single core. Two stand-alone buildings, facing onto The Crescent, would be about eight- to 10-floors in height. The plans also include the reinstatement of a “historic route” between Millbay and the city centre, “regreening” the area with a “pocket park”.

The site, next to Plymouth Athenaeum and the Saltwater Pace student flats, was tidied up in March 2023 ready for development. Mark Borg, director of private investment company SLB Investments (Plymouth) Ltd, today told PlymouthLive that a public consultation will take place at The Athenaeum on Friday, May 31.

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The company then expects plans to be submitted in the autumn with work beginning by the end of 2025, subject to the plans being approved. Mr Borg said: “The proposal seeks to deliver about 300 flats, a hotel and commercial space in an exciting new mixed-use urban quarter, reimplementing a historic route through the site and regreening an area of the city previously lost in the 1960s.”

Mr Borg stressed the site has long been identified as suitable for a tall building. In 2007 planning permission was granted for a 31-storey residential tower.

He said the new proposal is actually lower than the one given planning consent. He said: “Visually it is four buildings, although one is linked to the tower and shares a single core.

“In terms of height the highest accessible roof-garden floor is on level 30. The lift overrun plant area does go higher but overall it is 5.5m lower than the previously approved 31-storey scheme.”

He said the plan would mean the link between the city centre and Millbay would be greatly improved, and views of greenery once enjoyed by people in the listed Crescent, overlooking the site, would be reinstated. The landscaped pedestrian route, envisioned as a “green sanctuary”, will become a new public space “rich in bio-diverse habitats, green landscaping and a rain garden”.

He said roof gardens at many levels of the proposed buildings, including the top level 30 of the new tower on Derry’s Cross, would create a “green and softened silhouette in the urban landscape”. Mr Borg said: “The journey along the newly revived route will also offer a pocket park around the retained Holm tree, children’s play features, a sculpture garden for community-led installations.”

The land was once a military graveyard where sailors were buried between 1762 and 1822, with an estimated 2,000 cadavers possibly still under the ground, and Mr Borg said this was being taken into consideration and there would be a commemoration to the service personnel laid to rest in the old Pinfold burial ground. He said: “The buildings are being carefully designed to respect and avoid the need to disturb any archaeology.”

Mr Borg added: “As there are several important heritage assets close by, including a number of listed buildings and two separate conservation areas, we have sensitively focused on complementing and responding to the existing context with building aesthetics sympathising and celebrating the connection with their environs, and with materials inspired by colours and details of Plymouth’s city centre and Hoe Conservation Areas. Proposed facades and surface treatments will integrate Plymouth limestone, brickwork, moulded precast panels, ceramic tiles and anodized metal.”

Mr Borg said the new homes and hotel have been designed to minimise energy consumption, with integrated design features dealing with optimising passive ventilation, thermal gain, solar shading and daylight. A communal air-source heat pump system will provide residents with clean, energy-efficient heating and hot water, he said.

The proposal has also been designed to maximise the benefits of MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) technologies. That includes the use of modules made off-site for the structural frames, facades and internal fit-out, using recycled materials where possible, to reduce waste and minimise the carbon footprint of the development.

The land was put on sale for £3.5m in 2021 after previous plans to build on it never got off the ground. London-based SLB Investments bought the site after it had been taken over by receivers when a previous owner failed to keep up with mortgage payments.

The patch of land, once home to ITV’s Plymouth studio, has been empty since law firm Foot Anstey moved from it to Sutton Harbour in 2009. Among schemes proposed for the plot over the years was Devington Homes’ enormous Oceanique project, which at 365 feet would have been more than twice the height of the Civic Centre.

Members of the public are welcome to visit SLB Investments’ public consultation in the Athenaeum from 11am on May 31, where they can look at plans, speak with planning consultants Stride Treglown, and leave comments if they wish.


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