Plymouth could market itself as THE Post War city in the same way Bath is known as the Georgian City.

Tours around the city centre coupled with interpretation boards that tell the story of Plymouth’s unique Post-War architecture are some of the ideas being explored as part of the new City Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan (CAAMP).

The CAAMP was produced with funding support from Historic England to better understand the needs of the UK’s first post war city centre conservation area to sympathetically guide change in the future.

The conservation area was designated in 2019 and forms an important part of Plymouth’s City Centre, which was rebuilt following its destruction during World War Two. Based on A Plan for Plymouth 1943 by Professor Patrick Abercrombie and James Paton Watson, Plymouth has the highest number of 20th century listed buildings in the country.

The CAAMP sets out what makes Plymouth City Centre special, its specific character and setting but crucially what can be done to manage change and inform decision making in the future. Opportunities have been put forward that could help the city make the most of the conservation area and guide future development. As well as celebrating its heritage they include:  

  • Improvements to buildings – façade cleaning, maintenance, particularly cleaning Portland stone, repairs to mosaic finishes and overhauling metal windows and guard railings
  • Improving shopfronts – gradual reinstatement of more historically appropriate shop fronts and signage
  • Reuse of buildings – establishing a mix of uses within the conservation area as well as finding new uses for vacant and underused buildings, including residential to increase activity outside of office and shop hours and establish a community within the conservation area
  • Public realm improvements – such as improving and replace street furniture to remove clutter from street and public spaces including Old Town Street and Royal Parade
  • Increase public involvement and interaction, in the context of the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, to broaden understanding of Plymouth’s Post-War heritage through digital and physical interpretation, talks, walks, art installations, performances and marketing opportunities
  • Creation of a faith quarter – around Catherine Street there are four active religious buildings: St Andrew’s Church, the Plymouth Unitarian Church, Catherine Street Baptist Church and Plymouth Synagogue, all listed, all with their own architectural character and unique congregations
  • Responding to the climate emergency – looking at reducing the impact of cars in the conservation area to improve air quality, reduce carbon and improve pedestrian experience, installing electric vehicle charging points and encouraging more cycling and walking and new green landscaping to absorb carbon dioxide and rainwater

To read the full plan with themes and opportunities visit here.

Deputy Leader of the Council Patrick Nicholson said: “Plymouth has a wealth of post-war architecture and a rich cultural offer and the new City Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan will ensure we keep our rich cultural offer at the heart of everything we do. Some of the opportunities are already being looked at, but we need to look at this in the context of having the first Post War conservation area in the country. We need to preserve and enhance what we have.”

Once adopted this appraisal and management plan will help guide developers and planning officers looking at future changes to buildings and spaces in the conservation area. The consultation is now open and runs until 8 November. Comments will be collated and fed into the document.

Once adopted, the CAAMP which has been funded by Historic England, forming part of The Heritage Action Zone project, will be viewable on the council website in a user-friendly interactive format using high quality graphics, photos, plans and drawings.

The conservation area places Royal Parade and Civic Square at its heart and includes New George Street; Raleigh Street, Derry’s Cross, Athenaeum Lane to the west; Notte Street to the South; and Old Town Street, St Andrew’s Cross and abutting the western boundary of the Barbican Conservation Area to the east.

Outdoor spaces are included such as the Grade II listed Civic Square and Royal Parade.

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