Historic Plymouth Hoe At Risk

by Martin Worrall

Historic Plymouth Hoe At Risk

by Martin Worrall
Martin Worrall
Case Owner
My name is Martin Worrall, I live on Plymouth Hoe and am a member of the Hoe Conservation Area Residents' Association. We are fighting a development which threatens the integrity of the historic Hoe.
on 05th February 2017
pledged of £10,000 stretch target from 78 pledges
Martin Worrall
Case Owner
My name is Martin Worrall, I live on Plymouth Hoe and am a member of the Hoe Conservation Area Residents' Association. We are fighting a development which threatens the integrity of the historic Hoe.

Latest: April 8, 2017

Outcome of Oral Hearing

We are very sad to let you know that we have been denied permission to take our case to the High Court. The judge deliberated at the Oral Review Hearing for 2 hours and while he apparently could see …

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Plymouth Hoe is under threat and we have to stand together to protect it. We need your support.

In November 2016, Plymouth City Council granted permission, for a 7-storey block of 76 flats to replace a small 3‑storey care home in the historic Hoe Conservation Area. This status protects Plymouth Hoe itself and much of Plymouth’s most important heritage. The block is a blatant over-development of a sensitive site in a sensitive area, and will set a very dangerous precedent for other sites on the Hoe. With the support of residents and cross party support from local Councillors and our MP, I am seeking a Judicial Review in the High Court to have this decision overturned.

Why you should support this campaign

  • This is overdevelopment, pushing massing & scale beyond the acceptable, and building over 200-year old gardens and open space
  • Historic England and the Leader of the Council both stated that the maximum acceptable height should be 5 storeys
  • Permission was granted despite objections from Historic England, the Georgian Group and the Council’s own Historic Environment Officer
  • This will destroy the Georgian street scene, designed by John Foulston, Plymouth’s great architect and described as one of his “best set pieces”
  • The site is surrounded by the highest concentration of Georgian dwellings on the Hoe, themselves all protected by Grade II listings. It shares street frontage with the listed Lockyer Court and Grade II* No1 The Crescent – iconic buildings in their own right.
  • Up to 250 people will live in this block, yet there are no financial contributions to Health, Green Spaces or Education to offset the impact on the Community. The Affordable Housing Contribution is only 30% of the required level
  • This development will provide yet more tiny flats – the Hoe desperately needs affordable family housing with gardens where children can play
  • The Planning Committee was denied information needed to make an informed decision. The Planning Office arbitrarily and retrospectively waived the need for:                                                   
    • A Tall Buildings Report which would have clarified the impact of this development on the Conservation Area and the 2 and 3 storey buildings around the site - noting that the development is outside the City Centre Tall Building Zone
    • It would also have shown that this development will block people’s “Right to Light” by building a 7 storey high wall just 7m in front of the windows of the adjacent affordable housing
    • A Transport Statement which would have shown that the narrow service lanes are not suitable for service, delivery or emergency vehicles even if already over-subscribed parking spaces are sacrificed for the development

Please join us in this fight and show the Planning Office that the residents of Plymouth are willing to stand up and fight, not just for this site, but the whole of the Hoe and for Plymouth’s other Conservation Areas

The Barbican Association in the 1960s fought to save large parts of the historic Barbican from demolition and succeeded in preserving it for future generations. 

Today we are working to stop the Hoe from being overdeveloped, so that everyone can enjoy it now and in the future.  If we do not overturn this decision, this building will set a dangerous precedent for future development on the Hoe.

Other historic cities manage to move forward without destroying their heritage and character – Bath, Oxford, York, Edinburgh all recognise the importance of their historic environment to residents and visitors alike. Plymouth City Council needs to do the same.


If you want any further information: email [email protected]


  1. About the case – Planning Issues       
  2. Why this is important
  3. Money
  4. The People
  5. Links
  6. Our Thanks


There were many things wrong with the whole application process, but we have narrowed down our challenge to the Council's decision to two points:

  • important documents were omitted from the application meaning that the Planning Committee did not have all the evidence they needed to make a fully informed decision.
  • the development, which could house up to 250 people, offers no financial contribution to offset the impact on local services or the immediate local infrastructure. It offers no contribution towards Green Spaces at a time when Plymouth City Council are promoting access to green spaces for all.

We are not NIMBYs. Make no mistake - residents are keen to see the site developed, but they believe that any new building should respect the historic context of the Hoe and should reflect the housing needs of the community – we need to be more inclusive and meet the needs of families, not more tiny flats.

The existing Peirson House may not today represent the best of architecture, but it does “fit” in terms of height, scale and massing with the surrounding architecture, echoing the footprint and scale of the terrace of houses it replaced after the war. The new Peirson House is the wrong building in the wrong place.


Residents have made every effort to engage with the Council to ensure due process and the delivery of an appropriate development but our objections and formal complaints were dismissed without due consideration. Due planning process was not followed and polices have been breached. In order to protect the Hoe from this, and (by way of precedence) any future similar over-development, we are left with no option now other than to seek that the planning permission be overturned at the High Court.


Plymouth Hoe is amazing and beautiful – it really is the best open space a city could ask for.

It is of enormous historical significance, not only to Plymothians but also nationally and internationally.  As we look forward to inviting people from across the globe to celebrate Mayflower 2020, we are reminded just how important history and heritage are to our city. 

The Hoe overlooks the waters of Plymouth Sound, across which The Pilgrim Fathers set off for America in 1620, it is where Sir Francis Drake famously played bowls before going off to defeat the Spanish Armada, it is where thousands gathered to welcome Sir Francis Chichester home from his solo round the world trip. 

Your journey through the 19th Century streets of the Hoe to this magnificent vista is enhanced by the historic streetscape of Georgian and Victorian buildings which provide the gateway to this wonderful space.

Much of this architecture is protected with listed building status, but this is worthless if we fail in our duty to protect the setting in which these buildings sit.

And this is what happens when you fail to protect the setting. Please help us stop any repeat of the post war planning decisions on the Hoe which gave us this……

The Peirson House development will be just as shocking - it is a return to the bad old days and is the “toe in the water” by the developers which, by precedence, will threaten other sites identified for development on the Hoe and adjoining Conservation Areas. We are fighting to preserve Plymouth's historical integrity from inappropriate development, now and in the future.


The cost of taking the Council to Judicial Review is in two stages, stage 1 will cost £20,000 of which we have already raised £10,000 from a small number of neighbours. We are now asking for your help to fully fund stage 1, initially with a £5,000 target and then a stretch target of a further £5,000.


My name is Martin Worrall, my family and I have lived on the Hoe for 10 years, and I am a member of the Hoe Conservation Area Residents' Association. The association was established 40 years ago in response to poor post war planning decisions, which threaten to destroy the character and heritage of what is an iconic historical area. The association is passionate about protecting the Hoe for everyone, a passion which I share, and it is on their behalf that I am taking this action.

Paul Thompson (Temple Bright Solicitors)

Richard Wald (39 Essex Chambers Barristers)

Martin, and the other residents supporting him, should be applauded for their willingness to take a principled stance and bring this claim before the court at great financial risk to themselves.

There was a clear failure on the part of the Council officers to advise Planning Committee members properly, via the reports which are required under planning law but not supplied as part of the planning application.

We have encouraged our client to use CrowdJustice as the ability it gives them to feel empowered, not only to access justice, but also to protect the living conditions of people in their community, and it is a powerful way for their supporters to feel they had a voice.”

Graham Eves (Transport Expert, PFA Consulting Ltd)

The Council has not properly considered the servicing requirements and arrangements for the new building (which will differ from those of the previous use of the site). The application details clearly demonstrate the difficulties of access for service vehicles and the inevitable loss of existing resident’s parking spaces which appear to have been disregarded. We also believe that the Council has incorrectly considered the extent to which the new development will increase the demand for resident, or visitor, parking permits putting pressure on a system already under pressure!”

MP Oliver Colvile (Conservative)

Sutton and Devonport MP Oliver Colvile wrote to the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government asking him to call in the decision for him to consider this application for himself, but was told it remains a matter for the council.

Mr Colvile said “I believe that the height of this development could set a dangerous precedent in one of Plymouth’s most sensitive conservation areas. I believe that this is very important to Plymouth and our country’s heritage.”

Councillor Chris Penberthy (Labour)

“The planning committee has to take things very seriously when it makes its decisions and it always does that, but to do that it needs the right information provided. It’s concerning that local residents have identified that two key documents were not provided to the planning committee, so the planning committee were not able to be fully informed of all the issues that they needed to know, when they were making their decision. The local residents complained about this within good time to enable the Council to follow its own procedure, to halt process and revisit. Unfortunately, the Council determined the planning decision before answering the complaint. It seems to me sad that local residents are having to take a Judicial Review route to try and alleviate a problem that the Council had in its process.” 

 Councillor Sue McDonald (Labour)

The Hoe is seen as critically important to Plymouth’s image and I would say that this not only extends nationally but globally particularly with the impending Mayflower 2020. Most people accept that dynamic cities change, the crucial point here is that this change must surely be equated with progress and replacing Peirson House with this block of flats is not the answer. The impact of the sheer mass of the building will cause harm to the character and appearance of the Hoe Conservation Area.

The buildings and streets that frame the Hoe area retain their traditional proportions and character and this proposal has a poor degree of aesthetic fit with the immediate neighbourhood and is inappropriate to this site. This building could have been sited on the available brownfield site across the road, outside the Conservation Area, and where there are already several tall buildings, rather than dwarf listed buildings only 7m away from its base. Planning rules require that developments should respond to the local character and history, to go ahead with this application would be a missed opportunity for something better, the citizens of the Hoe, St Peter and the Waterfront, the city and beyond, deserve nothing less. To grant this tower block would cast a large shadow that would last long beyond the present pressures for housing."

Councillor Ian Tuffin (Labour)

“I would like to say that many people will be impacted by this development and I would point to the lack of consultation with local residents that has taken place. This development is within the Conservation Area and is without doubt one of the prime development areas to have come up for sale by the Council in recent years. It is important that any development is a credit to this site and results in a building that enhances this gateway to Plymouth Hoe. The proposed developments massing is not in keeping with the rest of the historic landscape, and the developer has been keen to exploit every last centimetre of this site and to pack in as many box type dwellings as is possible, which will not result in the family homes that would meet the needs of the local community. The time taken to bring this development to planning, several years, has meant that other possibilities for this site have not been able to be considered and I am sure that this site has potential for a much-improved design. I would also like to say how important the members of Plymouth Hoe Conservation Area Residents’ Association are in continuing to play a huge part in safeguarding our environment and our heritage, and it is without doubt that the area of Plymouth Hoe, of which we are all so proud of, would not be what is today if it was not for the forty years of hard work by the residents in protecting what we take for granted. So please show your support for them by supporting this campaign.”






Plymouth City Council, Planning Application can be found here:



We have been heartened by the support of so many people within and beyond our community and we are immensely grateful to those experts and professionals who have generously given their time, expertise and advice at no charge. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to get us this far, with a special thanks to:

The Invicta Hotel

Kevin Kelway, Dorcas Media

McCaren Architects

Alan Tibbitts, DVX Productions

The Reverend Patrick Coffey

Dave Upton Photography

and a special thanks to the Plymouth Herald who have kept Plymouth up to date with our fight


If you want any further information email [email protected]

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Update 5

Martin Worrall

April 8, 2017

Outcome of Oral Hearing

We are very sad to let you know that we have been denied permission to take our case to the High Court. The judge deliberated at the Oral Review Hearing for 2 hours and while he apparently could see what we were arguing, he didn't think there was sufficient merit in taking it forward.

The Council blocked evidence from our technical expert and refused to provide even a redacted copy of the Financial Viability Statement for the site. This statement would have identified why the Council have allowed the developer to avoid paying a significant sum of infrastructure payments for Parks, Health or Education to offset the impact of the 150 plus new residents on the area.

 We are saddened that the Council blocked our evidence as this fight has always only ever been about protecting the Hoe Conservation Area.  Historic England stated that this building will harm the Conservation Area, and our fears that it will set a precedent for further tall buildings on The Hoe are already proving justified, with the Register Office site now ear-marked for a building of 11 storeys or more.

We would like to thank everyone across Plymouth and beyond who backed this campaign, with action or donations – it was a battle worth fighting and we only got as far as we did because of you.

This is a very sad day for Plymouth but it has brought us closer together as a community. We remain passionate about our heritage and will never give up our battle to protect the Hoe Conservation Area.

We have accrued additional costs as a result of working around the blocking of some of our evidence, and fell short of the initial target of £10,000. Therefore, if any of you could afford a few more pounds to help us settle the legal bill, that would be very much appreciated.

Thank you to you all.

Best wishes

Martin Worrall

Update 4

Martin Worrall

March 30, 2017

Oral Review Hearing - Papers Submitted

Today we served our papers to the Court for the Oral Hearing next Thursday 6th April. We were very happy with the submission, but saddened that Plymouth City Council in their determination to defeat us are attempting to block our transport expert's opinion from being heard by the Judge.

The Council have now announced the intention of allowing a developer to build a Hotel and 52 dwellings on the Registry Office site, which is also on the Hoe. This would mean another tall building in the Hoe Conservation Area. Our battle for Peirson House is therefore even more crucial in the fight to get the Council to recognise and honour its commitment to protect Plymouth’s Conservation Areas.

Update 3

Martin Worrall

March 19, 2017

Date for Oral Review Hearing

We now have the date for our Oral Review Hearing - on 6th April our Barrister will present our arguments to a Judge, who will decide whether our case can go forward to the High Court.

Please keep telling your friends and family about our case - we still need your support. Thank you.

Update 2

Martin Worrall

March 6, 2017

Next Stage

Just to let everyone know, as predicted by our legal team we have been refused at the first stage and will now be going to an oral presentation before a judge, where our barrister can discuss our case in detail for the Judge to decide whether we can go forward to the High Court or not. This is not a surprise to us, as this is the norm in most cases.

Thank you for your continued support - it means a lot to us.

Update 1

Martin Worrall

Feb. 19, 2017

First target met !

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us – your generosity has meant that our first target of £5,000 was reached and then surpassed well within our target time, which is fantastic. We really cannot thank you enough!

We have been greatly encouraged by the support we have received and we are heartened by the fact that so many of you share our fundamental wish to protect Plymouth’s famous Hoe by trying to uphold the protection which should be afforded by the Conservation Area status.

Having been served with our papers, Plymouth City Council have lodged their counter arguments, and the case will now be passed to a Judge and almost certainly to an oral hearing where we believe the strength of our argument will enable us to proceed to Judicial Review in the High Court.

Thanks to your help, donations have enabled us to get to this stage – our campaign continues and we need to continue to raise money in order to fund the remaining legal costs.

We are now moving towards our stretch target of £10,000 and we still really need your help to keep spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, any way you can. Tell your neighbours, ask your friends to spread the word, lobby your Councillors and voice your concerns to your MP’s.

If you would like to contact us, please do email us at [email protected]

Together we can do this ! Thank you.

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