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Revealed: replacement for doomed Hoe Centre

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The AJ can reveal the first images of the proposed replacement for the doomed 1952 Hoe Centre in Plymouth

Designed by Bristol-based Willmore Iles Architects, the 552-bedroom student block will stand on the site of the former NAAFI building which campaigners have desperately tried to stopped being demolished (AJ 15.07.10).

A second bid to get the building listed failed last week paving the way for the new seven/eight storey plans which were recently lodged by project backer, the University of Plymouth.

According to a spokesman for the practice ‘the scheme uses the University’s ‘signature’ material of pre-patinated copper at public interfaces’.

The development also includes reintroduces ‘an historic pedestrian link to the Hoe, creating a new public space, with two internal courtyards for student use.’

It is understood demolition work is now continuing on the original Hoe Centre building which was designed by Ernest Martin Joseph and was the home to the University of Plymouth’s architecture school until 2007.

Postscript (24 November 2010)

Joint press statement from The Twentieth Century Society and Save the Hoe Centre

Last Thursday Plymouth City Council conditionally approved an application from the University of Plymouth to build over 500 units of student accommodation overlooking Plymouths most prestigious and historic public space, the Plymouth Hoe.

The decision has dismayed campaigners and local people who had sought protection for the former NAAFI building and had fought against the kind of unsympathetic development now proposed. Despite several changes in design, the current scheme cannot be said to echo the landmark stature of the NAAFI, the tower of which helped formed an elegant gateway to the Hoe.

Despite repeated protests from local groups, academics and heritage bodies, the council have here decided to let another key piece of their city go. Plymouth has the largest number of post-war buildings listed anywhere outside London – the world-class post-war plan is being lost and the council now want to sell the jewel in the crown, the listed Civic Centre, which contains one of the best collections of post-war art and design in the country.

Other cities with important C20 heritage like Bristol, Exeter and Coventry have learnt the lessons of the 1960’s and have designated conservation areas and used local lists to protect the best bits of the recent past – why not Plymouth?

Plymouth is about to lose another key piece of its post-war jigsaw – how much more will go before the city council acknowledges the city’s importance.

When it’s gone, it’s gone and it’s unlikely that anyone will be fighting for buildings like the one proposed for the NAAFI site in 50 years time.


Demolition has started at the Hoe Centre in Plymouth

Demolition has started at the Hoe Centre in Plymouth

Previous story (AJ 28.07.10)

Plymouth Hoe Centre listing refused

Culture minister Jeremy Hunt has followed English Heritage’s advice and turned down a last-minute bid to list the Ernest Martin Joseph-designed Hoe Centre in Plymouth

A statement from English Heritage said the 1950s building failed to meet the ‘high standards required for listing a building of its date’ echoing findings in its previous report drawn up in 2006.

Demolition of the former home to the University of Plymouth’s architecture school started last week provoking outrage from architects, the Twentieth Century Society and local residents.

The building was home to the University of Plymouth’s architecture school until 2007 and will now become student accommodation.

A statement from the Save the Hoe Centre group said: ‘The city council is still operating under the very outdated notion that conservation is a barrier to development.  It is not – however conservation can be a good barrier to bad development.’ 

Meanwhile details of the planned replacement - a two-block, seven/eight-storey scheme by Bristol-based Willmore Iles Architects - have now emerged on the City of Plymouth’s website.

Disappointed campaigner Joakim Boren said: ‘We feel a landmark can only be replaced with a new landmark. We wanted this to become creative and community hub for Plymouth.’

Read English Heritage’s full report on the Hoe Centre listing refusal


English Heritage’s statement


We looked carefully at the Hoe Centre’s claims for special interest in 2006, and although we felt that it did not merit listing, we acknowledged the considerable local significance of the building. Given the understandable concerns at the demolition of such a striking and locally-loved landmark, we have looked again at new information which has been put forward to ensure that we have explored every avenue in assessing the significance of the building in a national context.

Once again our assessment, which has been supported by additional research commissioned by English Heritage Survey Team colleagues, has demonstrated that although the building has great claims to local historic and architectural interest, it does not meet the high standards required for listing a building of its date. Given the on-going demolition, it is with regret that we can confirm that the building is not listable.

Deborah Porter, heritage protection team leader at English Heritage

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