The Story So Far
Millbay’s historic former docks were built by the iconic Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and became a key staging post for the great ocean liners and their rich and famous VIP passengers travelling to and from the USA.
Its history goes way beyond that though, with Millbay originally taking its name from the medieval tidal mills which once stood here.
Over the centuries it has played host to a key Civil War port, a prison during the French and American revolutionary wars and the workyard of John Smeaton as he built the third Eddystone Lighthouse and transported it block by block to the windswept reef 14 miles off Plymouth.
Millbay also served as a launching point for many a great ocean adventure, none more so than the departure of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic expedition to the Antarctic aboard Endurance from Millbay in 1914.
Just two years earlier, on Sunday, April the 28th 1912 Millbay Docks was the scene of the return of most of the surviving crew of the Titanic, fourteen days after the White Star liner sank in the Atlantic.
Millbay suffered greatly from bombing in World War Two, and despite a brief return to prosperity after the war, as air travel increased and maritime passenger numbers dropped, the area fell into decline before becoming the subject of a major regeneration project to create a new waterfront quarter for Plymouth.
The aim was to transform Millbay into a thriving area offering new homes, business space, retail units, and to reconnect the city centre to the waterfront through the creation of an innovative public Boulevard. This new lease of life for Millbay has seen more than £90million of a planned £200million invested since 2006.
The first major development was Cargo which featured 134 homes and 1,700 sq m (18,300 sq ft) of commercial space. Cargo set the standard for the high quality of development at Millbay and scooped a string of accolades, including being named Best Housing Scheme, at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) South West Town & Country Design Awards 2009, and being judged as one of the top ten best new developments in the UK through receiving a Building for Life Award, Led by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and the Home Builders Federation.
This was followed by Cargo 2 which featured a mix of high quality houses, apartments and ground floor commercial space opposite Cargo at a key gateway site to the Millbay regeneration area
Next was the refurbishment of Millbay’s historic, listed inner harbour which then went on to host the race village for the 2011 America’s Cup World Series, reaffirming the docks’ place as a thriving waterfront destination.
The restoration of the inner harbour also paved the way for the creation of the new 171-berth King Point Marina development, bringing an active waterfront back to Millbay and providing a venue for the launch the popular Dock restaurant.
The new £12.5million Plymouth School of Creative Arts has brought activity and colour to a prominent site within Millbay and has created a primary and secondary school for 1,000 pupils.
Quadrant Quay is the third major residential phase, occupying a key site on the regeneration area’s eastern edge and providing an important link between Millbay, its neighbouring communities and wider city, including phase one of a long-held Plymouth ambition for a new boulevard reconnecting the city centre and waterfront.
Two further phases of development are currently under way:
The next phase of development – Quadrant Wharf – is under way on the eastern side of the historic former docks, located next to and following on from the Quadrant Quay development.
Quadrant Wharf will feature a mix of 137 one, two and three bedroom apartments and split-level homes with associated parking. External landscaping will pick up on the popular coastal theme which has been such a successful part of Quadrant Quay and there will be further new pedestrian links to the waterfront from the neighbouring West Hoe Road.
The artists impression below shows how the development could look.*
The provision of an extra care facility at the heart of the Millbay regeneration is a key element in the Millbay masterplan.
The 80 apartment Abbeyfield scheme which is under construction will address the need for affordable housing for the community’s older people. Devised in partnership with Millbay’s lead developer, the English Cities Fund, in partnership with Homes England and Plymouth City Council, the scheme will provide prospective residents with 24-hour on-site care, state-of-the-art facilities and a friendly, community-focused living environment.
Once completed, 10 apartment units will be put up for market sale with the remaining 70 available for affordable rent.
The image below is a CGI showing how the completed building could look.*
*Please note: Computer generated images (CGIs) and artists impressions are based on information available to the artist at the time image is created . They are not intended to be an accurate description of any specific property, its location or surrounding area . We do sometimes need to make changes to designs, features and finishes during the development and appearance may vary on completion.