Transport | Plymouth City Partnership Plymouth Railway Station Project

This is the ninth case study in One Public Estate's 'Unlocking the value in public sector assets', published in 2017.

The challenge

Plymouth is the busiest station in the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) and third busiest in the south west after Bristol Temple Mead and Bath Spa. Yet it is the only station in the region that has not undergone major redevelopment or is included in a plan for major redevelopment, since the 1960s. At present the station presents a poor impression for rail passengers arriving in Plymouth and needs a major overhaul. There is a need to improve the passenger experience and provide a new gateway when passengers approach and leave the station.

The Plymouth Railway Station Project involves a comprehensive redevelopment of the existing station and surrounding area. The landowners Plymouth City Council, Network Rail and Great Western Railway have committed to work in collaboration with Plymouth University to deliver the project.

The first phase, supported by £5 million of HotSW LEP Growth Deal 3 funding and £500,000 from Cornwall Council, is the construction of a new multi storey car park and demolition of the existing car park. This will enable the creation of several development sites which will attract inward investment into the station area and funding for the improved public realm and accessibility.

The vision

More than 2.5 million passengers come through the station every year, and the numbers of passengers continue to grow year on year. On arrival, visitors’ first view of Britain’s ‘Ocean City’ is of a station that has been neglected and is not in keeping with the largest city in the south west peninsula.

Plymouth Council want to change this and to create a sense of welcome more in keeping with what this ocean city offers. This exciting scheme will transform and revitalise the station and its approaches with shops, offices and public space. Plymouth Railway Station Project will play a key part in the international Mayflower 2020 celebrations.

The actions

Plymouth Council and Network Rail have commissioned consultants to prepare a high level master planning exercise with the preferred option approved by the key stakeholders.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been entered into by Plymouth City Council, Network Rail, Great Western Railway and the University of Plymouth which establishes the principle of key stakeholder collaboration.

As the two site owners, Plymouth City Council and Network Rail have entered into a Bi-lateral Understanding setting out the principles of merging their sites for the wider comprehensive redevelopment of the station.

A project steering board has been established with senior representation from Plymouth City Council, Cornwall Council, Cabinet Office, the Department for Transport, HotSW LEP, Network Rail, GWR and the University of Plymouth.

The injection of OPE funding has facilitated the commissioning of White Young Green to prepare a feasibility study and business plan on the new multi storey car park, leading to the demolition of existing multi storey car park, and providing 300 – 400 new modern parking facilities at the station.

Once the feasibility study and business case for the car park has been completed and agreed between Network Rail and Great Western Railway, the council, funded by OPE, we will commission consultants to prepare the outline business case for the HotSW LEP Growth Deal 3 funding application.

OPE has also funded the employment of a dedicated project manager to co-ordinate all activity on the site. If the £5 million Growth Deal 3 application is approved, the new multi-storey car park can be built, freeing up the old car park site for redevelopment of the University of Plymouth’s new 11,000 sq m faculty.

Further phases of redevelopment within the station will follow over the medium term which will lever in inward investment.


  • University of Plymouth academic faculty of approx. 11,000 sq m
  • Development site created due to the demolition of the existing multi storey car park
  • High quality public realm of approximately £2 million creating an appropriate sense of place for the railway station
  • New concourse and retail space
  • Improved car parking, bus and taxi facilities
  • A long term solution for Intercity House

Over next 10 years:

  • inward investment of £48 - £55 million
  • reduced running costs of £1.4 m
  • creation of 920 jobs
  • 16,000 sq m of new mixed use development space.

Next steps

A detailed feasibility study is being undertaken by GWR, funded by OPE to deliver a new multi storey car park and demolish the existing. Given the number of key stakeholders and associated work strands they will be individually responsible for, a detailed station programme plan identifying all critical path items and interdependencies is being prepared for agreement by all stakeholders involved.

Subject to a Growth Deal Funding award Plymouth City Council will commence the preparation and submission of the outline and then a detailed business case.

Plymouth City Council and Network Rail intend to enter into a landowner’s agreement and agree a land transaction with the University of Plymouth in respect of the proposed landmark education building and associated public realm.