Out-of-town shopping centre plan for Plymouth hotel site
PLANS are being drawn up to knock down a city hotel and build a £12million "out-of-town" shopping centre.
Developers who own the Legacy International Hotel at Marsh Mills, formerly run by Novotel, want to demolish the building and replace it with a four-storey block of five retail units, including a restaurant.
Cattedown-based Wessex Investors said the scheme would create 100 construction jobs and see 50 people work in the completed stores, that's 30 more than currently employed in the hotel.
And the firm stressed the shops, which would offer "big box retail" of bulky goods such as furniture, and would not pose a threat to city centre retailers.
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Wessex Investors stressed Plymouth is better served by inner city hotels, and the scheme, next to the A38, would create an eye-catching "gateway" building and "put Plymouth on the map" as a rival to Exeter for out-of-town shops.
The firm has written to 60 households living nearby inviting them, and anyone else interested, to an exhibition of the plans at the hotel tomorrow, from 10am to 3pm.
Wessex Investors hopes to submit a planning application at about the end of the year and envisages the proposed scheme, if approved, being built by 2014.
Tim Jones, operations director of Wessex Investors, said: "It's a £12million investment, non-food retail.
"It's not about losing a hotel, they are better in the centre of Plymouth.
"But here is a chance to round off the retail activity and put a gateway building there.
"It will require planning consent. We would have to prove it does not damage the city centre or any other plans for district centres, such as for Seaton Barracks.
"But there's no question there is demand for it. It's not there to compete with the city centre. The market assessment done by our agents shows a gateway site is highly desirable for the retail market. Exeter has been doing this for two years – this is our chance for Plymouth to bite back."
Mr Jones also chairs the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, the Devon and Cornwall Business Council and Devon Economic Partnership.
Wessex Investors is a property development, investment and asset management company with £50million South West portfolio. It acquired what was then the Novotel in 2010, and later that year Legacy Hotels took over as operator of the 100-bedroom operation.
Under the new proposals, the building would be knocked down and a new building constructed, but to the western end of the site, close to the Vospers car dealership.
The Plymouth office of architects LHC, based in the Royal William Yard, has designed the proposed L-shaped building, and it is envisaged that local contractors would mostly be used during construction.
Wessex Investors spokeswoman Lucie Brailsford said shifting the building would improve views for nearby residents. The plan would also include a new path through the car park, giving residents behind the current hotel a link with the main road and its cycleway, and trees will be planted around the site.
"The new development has been designed with Marsh Close and Longbridge Road residents in mind," she said. "It's a really important site for Plymouth. Everyone coming in on the A38 passes it. We would hope anything which creates jobs in the city would be well received."
A Plymouth City Centre spokeswoman said: "We encourage potential developers to carry out consultations on their proposals before submitting a planning application."