New grandstand, ice rink, hotel and cinema in £50million plan for Plymouth's Home Park
ARGYLE boss James Brent is to submit plans for a £50million transformation of Home Park.
Work could start this year if planners give the green light to a new grandstand, ice arena, hotel and IMAX cinema.
Mr Brent said he wanted to create a sporting, leisure and cultural destination that would attract visitors from across the peninsula.
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And he pledged that the development would go ahead regardless of Plymouth Argyle’s success on the pitch.
Mr Brent starts a conversation today with local people about his ambitious proposals. He said he expected to submit a planning application to Plymouth City Council by the end of April, incorporating feedback from the consultation.
Work could start in September, and the whole £50million project would be finished about 20 months later, he said.
The first phase will see a 400-space car park built on the existing car park and Argyle offices, and under the present Mayflower stand.
The new stand and a 1,500-seat ice arena will be built above the car park. Mr Brent said he hoped they would be completed by the end of 2014.
The new grandstand will incorporate conference and hospitality facilities and upgraded toilets for fans.
Mr Brent said he would provide the best ice facility of its kind within 150 miles. “The ambition is to create an ice ‘centre of excellence’ – in a similar way that the Life Centre next door is nationally recognised as a centre of excellence for diving.
“The arena will have a 60 by 30 metre ice pad for social and competition skating, with facilities for 1,500 spectators and the potential to host major events including figure skating and ice hockey matches.”
The next phase of work will see a hotel and ten-screen cinema with an IMAX screen.
A food court will have several restaurants and there will be sports and leisure shops.
The “high quality branded hotel” with 120 rooms will have views over Central Park.
As part of the development Mr Brent will also provide improvements to Central Park, including new tree-lined footpaths changing rooms for youth sports field users, sporting improvements to Cottage Field and better park entrances.
Mr Brent, who is chairman of Akkeron Group and Plymouth Argyle, said: “We want to create a high quality environment and experience by investing in sporting and leisure facilities that Plymouth people can be proud of.”
He said the aim was to capture many of the holidaymakers who now bypass Plymouth. “On a rainy day they should be coming into Plymouth, but they don’t,” Mr Brent said.
He said there were good restaurants in the city but the hospitality offering was poor. “We are addressing that.
“We have developed these proposals to maximise the benefits for the city in terms of improving facilities for local people and visitors and making a significant contribution to local economic growth.
“We want to work with local interest groups to shape and take forward these improvements.”
At the heart of the vision is a new grandstand with extra seating capacity to replace the outdated Mayflower stand at Plymouth Argyle Football Club’s Home Park stadium.
In his capacity as Argyle chairman Mr Brent said: “Our club is fighting to keep our Football League status and that naturally prompts the question: Why are we upgrading the stadium facilities at this time?
“Throughout the 126-year history of Plymouth Argyle our club has enjoyed the highs when promoted and the challenges when facing relegation.
“We have to plan and have ambition for our future. The new grandstand and hospitality facilities will greatly enhance the match day experience of our fans and visitors.”
He said the Akkeron Group would build the new stand without cost to the club. It would be funded by other aspects of the regeneration plan.
The improved facilities will generate match and non-match day income to pay off club debts and invest in the team, he said.
“This will hopefully create the ideal cycle we all want – winning football driving greater attendance and revenues which in turn will fund more winning football.”
Part of the deal when Mr Brent took over the Plymouth Pavilions from the city council last year was that he is required to provide a new ice rink.
He said that once construction starts on the Home Park development, his team would move on to the Pavilions site in the city centre.
Over the next few weeks the company plans to meet with interest groups, including Argyle supporters, local residents, ice skaters, Friends of Central Park, the city business community and disability group representatives to get feedback before it submits a planning application.
Home Park Development - the facts
THE £50million Higher Home Park scheme includes a redeveloped Mayflower Stand, including conference and banqueting facilities
Ice arena with 60x30 metre ice rink for social and competition skating, and facilities for 1,500 spectators, complete by the end of 2014
10-screen cinema including IMAX
Restaurants and sports/leisure shops
Central Park landscape enhancements including: new tree-lined routes, changing rooms, improvements to Cottage Field and ‘gateways’ at key entrances
Work expected to start in September this year if planners give the go-ahead
Total build time: 20 months
600 construction jobs
LEARN MORE: The Akkeron team will be on hand to discuss the proposals at the Theatre Royal, in Royal Parade, Plymouth, on: Thursday, March 21, 2-6pm; Friday March 22, 11am-4pm; Saturday March 23, 11am-4pm.
Information leaflets explaining the Higher Home Park vision will be available at Peverell Library and can be downloaded from www.higherhomepark.co.uk