Plymouth Derrys

Claridge Architects successfully achieved planning consent last week to convert an unused department store in Plymouth city-centre into a 300,000 sqft mixed-use student housing, commercial and hotel scheme. The former Derry’s Department store, comprising an entire block at the heart of the city’s modernist Abercrombie and Watson plan, is set to be sensitively restored and converted into a 500-bedroom student residence, a 100-room hotel and restoring the active frontages at the ground floor with 60,000 sqft of retail and commercial space. Completed in 1962, the building was designed by architect R.C Steel, remaining a department store until it closed in 2010. It was earmarked by Plymouth Council as a key regeneration opportunity.

Of the decision Marcus Claridge of Claridge Architects said:

“We’re delighted to secure planning for this important site in Plymouth. The team worked closely with the council to ensure that our designs not only respect and enhance the existing building, but that the mix of uses will bring it back to the heart of city life. The committee members’ praise for the sensitive architectural approach as they reached a decision shows that the city is proud of its built heritage and recognises that well-considered design can make a real contribution to its future.”

The scheme preserves the existing massing and views of the historic cluster of buildings, enhancing the robust architecture with a set back single story roof extension and a four-storey infill extension. The new facades are respectful to the careful detailing and stripped down Art Deco style of the original in terms of proportion, materiality, depth and detailing. The introduction of a series of internal courtyards offer both accessible and visual amenity space for the occupiers, and a brown roof will provide biodiversity.

Submitted for planning within 4 months of instruction, the project is the largest scheme for the practice to date and forms part of a deliberate and strategic push into the larger scale student accommodation, mixed use and PRS sectors by the practice.

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