Plymouth faced a problem, when people needed to go shopping, the nearest place for them to shop at multiple places under one roof (shopping mall) was Exeter or Bristol! So they needed to construct a shopping mall to keep the business in the city and the opportunities that come with it. On the current site were the shopping mall is, there used to be a car park that was built in the 50’s after the second world war. This car park sat next to Marks & Spencer (which’s location hasn't moved) and because of these two aspects there was already a lot of foot fall from the public going to the car park and going into M&S. Close to the current site a two story mall was built and opened in 1971 also named Drake Circus but then demolished (along with the old car park) once the now current Drakes Circus was finally approved.
When the idea was proposed by P&O Estates in 1990 the proposals failed. Acquiring planning permission to build Drakes Circus shopping mall took 10 years after P&O tried again in the early 2000s thanks to a big focus on extending the M&S, the prospect of a 1270 space car park (that earns a huge amount of money…) and having Alders sign up as the first tenant (it would have been located at the far east of the building taking up Primark and Next’s units) but they went into administration in 2005. Next and Primark then signed up and the building opened shortly after in October 2006. Construction started 2 years prior with Bovis Lend Lease in charge of the building works of the 654000 square foot shopping mall. Chapman Taylor were the architects of the £85 million project working with the structural engineers Clarke Nicholls & Marcel.
The aim of the project was “To create a strong retail-led urban design which is integrated into the city centre fabric, increases current available retail units and also improves retail facilities for Plymouth as a whole”. The main design concept was all about utilizing new materials to add “vitality and life” into the previously dull Plymouth city centre. You can find out more here.
Overall I feel the design is pretty strong, I enjoy looking at its structure and can appreciate the extra business and opportunity it brings to the area. It obviously isn't the best looking structure, but I think it does appeal in its modern aesthetic and puts Plymouth on the map. The most important thing after all.