One of the country’s leading regeneration companies is to acquire the Civic Centre.
Urban Splash – which has a track record of transforming concrete and listed buildings – will be sold the freehold of the Civic Centre.
The company has helped transform the city’s Royal William Yard, taking it from a disused Naval supplies base to a thriving residential community and much-loved food and drink destination with diverse operators such as River Cottage, Le Vignoble and Le Bistrot Pierre all moving there; to date it has received 24 awards for its work at Royal William Yard,
Urban Splash Director Nathan Cornish said: “We’re delighted. It is a tough building and it is very early days, but we’re very excited about the challenge of another iconic and listed building to tackle in Plymouth.
“Like many buildings of its era, it has its fans and its detractors, but we think the Civic has got something special: it is a unique building, set within the context of a famous post-war masterplan.
“Urban Splash has got a huge affection for Plymouth and we are pleased to play a part in its regeneration.”
The company has also delivered challenging and exciting regeneration projects including Fort Dunlop in Birmingham, Chimney Pot Park in Salford, Castlefield and New Islington in Manchester, The Midland Hotel in Morecambe,Lister Mills in Bradford, Rotunda in Birmingham and Park Hill in Sheffield.
Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets is giving the go-ahead for the sale under delegated authority. He said: “This organisation has a fantastic track record of breathing new life into difficult buildings – including listed and concrete buildings.”
“It is fair to say the future of the Civic caused some sleepless nights. But all the way through its recent history we were conscious of how important this building is and the role it could play in the regeneration of our city.
“This is an exciting year for Plymouth’s city centre and it is fantastic news to know that a building that dominates the city skyline can play a part in positive change.”
“As a Council it would have cost around £30 million to restore the building – now the private sector is taking on the Civic, we can redirect our energies and resources into creating jobs and homes for Plymouth.”
The Civic Centre was listed in 2007 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Opened by the Queen in July 1962, the building was the main administrative centre for Plymouth City Council until last year.
The complex includes the 14-storey tower block which is the highest building in the city centre. The tower block connects to the Council House, which includes the Council Chamber, where key decisions affecting the city are taken.
The Council has been looking for a solution for the Civic Centre for some time. A procurement exercise was carried out but a deal could not be reached with the preferred bidder that satisfied all the criteria and within the set timescales.
Last Autumn the Council noticed an increase in interest in the site and wrote to companies who had expressed an interest in the building inviting best offers for the purchase of the Civic Centre.
The Council plan to keep the Council House and carry out work to separate all utility and services supplies into the Council House. It will also install internal walls to separate the two buildings.
It has recently submitted a planning application to install a new CCTV centre in the basement of the Council House as well as the separation works.
The Council is still progressing with plans to move out of the Civic Centre. Many staff are now based in Ballard House, although a number of teams remain at the Civic. The intention is the last Council staff will leave the building in the Autumn.