New affordable homes planned for Plymouth eco-friendly neighbourhood

Plans have been submitted for an eco-friendly new neighbourhood in the heart of Plymouth city centre which will create 136 affordable homes for local people to rent and buy.

Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) is the city’s largest social housing landlord, and has prepared proposals to develop land off Bath Street in the Millbay regeneration area in close partnership with Plymouth City Council, furthering the authority’s objective to deliver new affordable homes for Plymouth whilst supporting the masterplan for the Millbay area to see residential led, mixed-use development of this site.

This week, PCH submitted a full planning application for the £33.5million scheme to the council following a public consultation held in October to gather feedback from local people, which has helped to inform and shape the final plans.

The application outlines PCH’s proposals to deliver a phased, mixed-use development creating 136 new, energy-efficient affordable homes along with commercial units, communal gardens, and children’s play areas in open green spaces. Links to cycle paths are planned, and bike stores and pedestrian footpaths would be included to help create a sustainable, low-carbon neighbourhood.

The regeneration would complete the planned Millbay Boulevard scheme, connecting Plymouth’s coastal quarter to the city centre, and redeveloping the current temporary car park bordering Martin Street.

The scheme would include:

  • 38 x 1 bed homes
  • 66 x 2 bed homes
  • 32 x 3 bed homes

Apartments would be available in buildings ranging from three to five storeys, with a duplex block alongside 20 townhouses and mews houses.

There would be 90 homes available for affordable rent, 19 offered through the Government’s Rent to Buy scheme, and 27 would be available for shared ownership sale through PCH’s sales brand SO Living, subject to grant funding and PCC’s requirements.

All homes would have private outside space with either decked balconies or private gardens, and the overall development would include allotment-style growing spaces. High quality communal gardens are planned with lawns and rain gardens planted with herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees. Oak block cubes would offer casual seating while informal play bridges located through the rain gardens with timber play animals for children would create natural play areas.

Ground floor units facing Bath Street and Millbay Boulevard would offer 628 sq m of flexible commercial space, including space planned for a hot food takeaway business.

The scheme forms part of the partnership agreement between PCH and Plymouth City Council which aims to deliver more than 600 new homes for Plymouth, with at least 444 for affordable housing.

PCH is acquiring the site, primarily owned by Plymouth City Council, subject to satisfactory planning consent being granted, and with the support provided through partnership working with Homes England, which is engaged with the project and providing expertise and support.

Nick Jackson, Director of Business Services and Development at PCH, said: “There is a growing need for good quality, affordable housing in Plymouth, with more than 6,800 households in the city in housing need.

“This sustainable development scheme at Bath Street will make a significant contribution towards meeting this need, as well as supporting the local authority’s regeneration strategy for the Millbay area and helping to revitalise an under-used city centre site.

“The proposals will deliver new, affordable homes for purchase through shared ownership and Right to Buy, as well as modern, energy-efficient social housing for affordable rent. There are welcoming green spaces and communal gardens planned for the benefit of the residents and local people, offering a major benefit to the community and the city.”

Parking provision is included in the scheme in line with planning guidance for sustainable city centre developments, with 26 on-site spaces, including 4 disabled parking spaces, electric vehicle charging points and six drop off bays.

The plans also allow for one cycle parking space per home, as well as a dedicated bike store for the townhouses and ground floor duplexes

Homes will be developed with a fabric-first approach to ensure reduced energy costs for residents. Construction jobs and site-related employment and skills training opportunities will be created to support local employment and training during the build process, and the resulting commercial units could support more than 30 full time jobs.

Councillor Mark Shayer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Economy at Plymouth City Council, said: “I am over the moon that yet another regeneration scheme is taking off. It follows the ethos of bringing people back to live in the city centre and to enjoy living there.

“This is a scheme that ticks a lot of boxes for our city. If approved, it will provide the housing that so many people need and also complements our Millbay Boulevard scheme.

“Importantly the design proposals are eco-friendly, with measures for more energy-efficient homes.

“But I’m also really pleased that yet again, partnership working between the council and PCH has brought about a scheme that could benefit so many people.”

Global design firm BDP is the architect and lead consultant for the scheme. The firm has significant experience in the regen and housing sectors.

Adam Darby, associate architect at BDP in the South West, said: “This significant regeneration project offers the opportunity to revitalise a city centre brownfield site in the heart of Plymouth, and help meet the need for high quality, energy-efficient, affordable homes.

“The vision for this site is to create a highly sustainable, low carbon new neighbourhood that will benefit from plenty of green open space, pedestrian and cycle-friendly areas, and children’s play areas that are integrated with the landscape.”

Plymouth Community Homes is a leading social housing provider managing more than 16,000 homes in Plymouth and the surrounding areas. PCH offers homes for both affordable and social rent, as well as developing homes for shared ownership sale.

Shared ownership is a Government-backed scheme making it easier for eligible buyers to get onto the property ladder. Purchasers buy a share of the home and pay rent on the remainder.

Rent to Buy is a Government scheme allowing households to rent a home at 20% below open market rent price, and ease the transition towards buying the property for eligible purchasers.