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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
'Concrete box' centre defended
New Plymouth shopping centre
Critics say the centre turns its back on the city
Developers of a new city centre shopping complex in Plymouth are defending its design.

Some critics of the new Drake's Circus development, which is described as a "fully covered shopping centre", have said it looks like a concrete box.

But developers P&O and the city council said it would be popular when opened.

The two-level centre will offer 560,000 square feet of retail floorspace, enough for eight major stores and 48 shops, plus more cafes and restaurants.

If anyone is teary-eyed for the 1970s shopping centre there before, I seriously question their sanity
Tudor Evans, Plymouth City Council

Critics have said the complex turns its back on the city.

Architectural historian Jeremy Gould said "I think it's an out-of-date concept having a glazed-in, enclosed shopping centre added to what is a perfectly good pedestrianised shopping area."

Architectural adviser and urban planner David MacKay said he also had concerns, but there was nothing he could do as plans were approved before his Vision For Plymouth scheme.

He said: "The design and political decisions were already in place and it's one of those occasions were the economy of the city is as important as its design.

"From the drawings I've seen there are some aspects we would like to see better done."

Developers P&O said the design would suit the city's often wet and windy climate.

They added that they believed shoppers were impatient for it to open.

Ray Knight, from P&O Properties, said: "I believe and hope they will think that it's the best thing that's happened for many years. It's certainly the first thing that has happened."

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans also thinks the centre will be enthusiastically greeted.

He said: "I think it's fantastic. And if anyone is getting teary-eyed and nostalgic for the 1970s shopping centre that was there before, I seriously question their sanity."

The redevelopment is expected to be complete by Autumn 2006.



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