A Plymouth project to give new life to empty shops and spaces has picked up two national awards.
The Plymouth Your Space project won the ‘diversifying the business mix’ category at the Association for Town & City Management National Partnership awards and then scooped their ‘National Partnership of the Year’ award.
City organisations formed a partnership to drive the project, including Plymouth City Council, City Centre Company, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, Plymouth University and City College Plymouth. The programme offers currently empty or redundant buildings and land space set in prime locations of both Business Improvement District areas to opportunities for ‘pop up’ style businesses or community projects, providing a single point of contact for people with ideas to develop them further and put them in touch with landlords and property owners.
With expertise provided from both Plymouth University’s Architectural School and City College corporat relations team, funding from Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and support from City Centre Company and Plymouth City Council, the project is enabling opportunities from weekend uses to five year leases.
The judges particularly liked the work of Effervescent, the arts organisation, which is transforming an empty bank at Derry’s Cross. The social enterprise has opened a tea parlour as the first part of a plan to turn the premises into an art gallery, rehearsal space and creative business incubation hub.
The judges said the right balance of retail, leisure, entertainment, culture, services businesses and employment was crucial to the success of any city centre and gave Plymouth Your Space project the award for progress in improving the quality, diversity and distinctiveness of the Plymouth City Centre offer.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: “This is a great boost to the project. Plymouth is reinventing itself as a place where you can do business, where you can be creative and you can earn a living. We are creating opportunities for people to explore their potential or their business idea in empty shops or on our waterfront – in return we get a better, livelier, more interesting city. I’d particularly like to single out Patrick Knight our Economy and Employment manager who came up with the idea and made it a reality.”
Sarah O’Leary, Manager of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said: “This means a great deal to everyone involved as it demonstrates the strength in how private, public and educational sectors collaborating closely can lead to real results for the city as a whole.
“We hope this will get the message out that we can help people who have interesting ideas for a business to get in touch – we have some really intriguing spaces on our waterfront that have long been vacant and this project can enliven those quieter areas and ultimately create new jobs.
City Centre manager Stefan Krause added: “I was blown away when it was announced we had won the national partnership award. We are all working together – not just the Council and the Business Improvement Districts, but Plymouth University and City College Plymouth, they are all bringing something different to the project.”
Eloise Malone, Director of Effervescent said: “Radiant is a unique project delivering extraordinary creative opportunities for children and young people who have had a tough time and need nurturing. We are delighted to be collaborating with the city on this exciting venture, and very grateful for the support of our landlord and of the Your Space project to get this unusual cultural project up and running. Effervescent is grateful for seed funding from Arts Council England, Big Lottery, and RIO.
“We also want to acknowledge the generosity of our partners Attik Dance and Plymouth University, and our colleagues Young Devon, Dom Moore Photography, Drew Turner Design and Highly Interactive. Without so much advice, enthusiasm and hugs when it got scary, we wouldn’t have been able to realise such an ambitious vision.
We’ve had huge support from the community which we have acknowledged on our Wall of Heroes. We’re now working on a ten year plan to grow and thrive. Our first exhibition opens on 19 August.”
There are around 25 sites in the city centre and the waterfront which have been put forward as potential pitches.