David Draffan, Plymouth City’s Council’s Service Director for Economic Development, has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

David has been awarded the honour for Services to Local Government for his dedication and commitment to supporting and developing Plymouth’s business economy.

David came to Plymouth in 1999 as the first city centre manager and then set up the City Centre Company in 2005. He established the first Business Improvement District outside of London.

He then moved to the City Council where he established the Economic Department in 2009 and has led the delivery of Plymouth’s major transformation projects over the last decade, ranging from retail and leisure, through science and technology.

He spearheaded the Oceansgate Marine Enterprise Zone, winning funding and international support for the creation of a world class hub for marine industry research, innovation and production located adjacent to the city’s naval base. David also led on the major extension of Plymouth Science Park.

Some of the major retail developments in the city including the £53m leisure and entertainment destination at The Barcode and the new Range Head Office to Plymouth in 2019, have bucked national trends in attracting institutional investment to such ventures, largely due to David’s unswerving commitment to the city’s vision for growth. 

In 2010 he set up Destination Plymouth with the aim of increasing the number of visitors to the city, tourism related jobs and to grow visitor spend. Then in 2012 he set up the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership to drive the Visitor economy and promote the waterfront. Destination Plymouth’s new ten-year Visitor Plan sets out ambitious targets for the local visitor economy to achieve by 2030 and will play an important role in helping the industry to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of his most significant and lasting contributions to the cultural life of the city has come to fruition with the opening of The Box last year. A £47m project described as the most significant cultural initiative in the UK in 2020. Through eight years of planning, he led the team that has brought together the city’s museum, art gallery and archive into a single, landmark destination.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, David led the city’s response to the impact on businesses, inviting and receiving 3,000 grant applications from local businesses and distributing £32m of financial support within four weeks of the scheme being launched.  His commitment to smaller businesses is also illustrated by the launch of SHOP4Plymouth and Call4fish over the last six months, providing invaluable support and recognition for these threatened sectors.

David said: “It’s been an exciting, humbling and at times surreal few weeks since I found out in May and my wife and I couldn’t believe it. Since the public announcement the highlight has been to share messages with so many friends and colleagues that I have worked with over the last 20 years in Plymouth. I have always been so proud to work for the City Council and its elected members. The people I currently work in my job with are the best I have ever worked in my career and what binds us all together is a deep passion for our city.  Like many others, I am entirely driven by the fact that this amazing city is where I live and have chosen to bring my family, having moved here in 1999. It has been a privilege to do this job and I hope that this award does shine a light in some small way on the brilliant people that work selflessly in Economic Development here in Plymouth.”

Chief Executive Tracey Lee said: “I am absolutely delighted that David has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours. Plymouth’s re-emergence over the last ten years as a significant economic and cultural contributor in the UK and its resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic owe a great deal to his personal drive, commitment and determination. This award is richly deserved.”

David is the second member of the Council’s Senior Leadership team to be recognised with an MBE. In January last year Paul Barnard, Service Director for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours for his outstanding contribution to housing and town planning.

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