Marking 10 years of Urban Splash at Royal William Yard
Award winning regeneration company Urban Splash will celebrate a decade of involvement at the Royal William Yard, Plymouth today – and mark the occasion with a visit by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles will visit the stunning waterside development on 15th July 2014 when he will be given a tour by Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman and Founder of Urban Splash.
During his visit, His Royal Highness will be shown just how the ex-Naval Victualling Yard has been regenerated by Urban Splash in the last 10 years, transforming the fortunes of the 189-year-old complex:
1825: From its inception and for a further 160 years, Royal William Yard was an active naval port employing lots of sailors, refueling the Royal Navy and restocking ships. Throughout this period, the Yard was closed to the public.
1985: The then Minister of Defence, Michael Heseltine, announced the closure of the yard because it was no longer seen as appropriate to use a scheduled ancient monument for the storage of naval equipment.
1992: The Yard was fully shut down and left under the control of Plymouth City Council and SWRDA and despite many great efforts and ideas, including a £60million plan to convert the site into a huge factory shopping outlet and a £100million development proposal which envisaged converting the site to include a four-star hotel, museum, shops and other businesses – nothing proved viable enough to progress. The Yard remained largely closed to the public during this period.
2004: Urban Splash began working with SWRDA and, with the support of Plymouth City Council, started to see the Yard come alive, initially with new residential apartments (the first of which competed in 2007) and laterally with the opening of offices, restaurants, an outpost of the University of Plymouth, art galleries, exhibitions and the opening of the Royal William Yard Marina and the establishment of a ferry for the public. A new staircase was also opened which linked the Yard and Devils Point for the first time. 2014 has also seen a cycle hub launched at the scheme.
The Yard has ultimately been transformed to become a premier destination for the South West and cited by city leaders as a ‘cultural hub’.
Hundreds of jobs, 216 homes and almost 90,000 sq ft of workspace have been created, while businesses and institutions, including universities, design agencies, architects and recruiters have been brought to the area.
A gastronomical hub for Plymouth, Urban Splash’s main coup has been their luring of fantastic leisure operators to the development including Bistrot Pierre, the Royal William Bakery, Las Iguanas, Prezzo, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage, Wagamama and wine bar Le Vignoble. Cultural delights come in the form of Rockets & Rascals cycle hire and cafe, designer clothes shop Bibi Mac, Envy hair salon, the Martin Bush Art Gallery and the yet to open One Royal William Yard – a myriad of tea rooms, fine art displays, interior designers, jewelers and secret gardens.
Tom Bloxham, MBE, commented: “We are delighted to welcome HRH Prince of Wales to Royal William Yard and show him how we have developed the space. The Prince is a great fan of architectural heritage with a real passion for saving old buildings; I know he has had a long and serious interest in this collection of buildings – which bears not only his son’s name but also has connections to the royal family as a whole.
“I am looking forward to showing him how we brought the area back to life and explaining our plans for the final two buildings which will bring a five-star hotel and artists’ studios to this amazing complex.”
Tom continued: “I am excited to see the completion of this monumental work is now in sight; it’s great to see Ocean Studios already on site in Factory Cooperage and we are pleased to see planning has been achieved at the new Melville hotel.”