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Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative

Andrew Skelton's planters

Demand for improvements on Mutley Plain have, over the years come from a number of sources, and in particular from within the local community in the form of the 'Mutley....A Way Forward' document, from which developed the Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative.

The public art and environmental improvement programme to be implemented through the Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative represents a new way of partnership working for the City Council. The project aims to be a test-bed for the role of the arts and artists in the context of a wider urban regeneration initiative setting a standard in good practice for other similar projects in Plymouth and elsewhere. Through the medium of a highly integrated public art and environmental improvement scheme, the first of its kind in the city, the aim has been to deliver economic development and urban regeneration outputs which reflect established urban design principles.

Reflecting other notable success stories, for example, in Birmingham and Sheffield, the aim has not been to define at the outset a range of commissions, but, to establish a framework for decision-making about the kind of work that might be appropriate for Mutley Plain. This approach has been given strong creative direction through the appointment of appropriate arts professionals, including a Lead Artist, who have worked in partnership with local people and the City Council.

The project has attracted funding from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England that is being matched by funding from the Single Regeneration Budget to create an improvements budget in the region of £200,000.

Background

Mutley Plain's last two limes

Mutley Plain district shopping centre is located approximately a mile north of the city centre. The centre is made up of around a hundred businesses including retail outlets, banks, takeaways and pubs located on either side of the B3250, a key arterial route into the city centre.

In recent years, the local community has become increasingly vociferous about a number of issues affecting Mutley Plain - for example, pollution; accessibility and perception of crime - leading in 1994, to the publication of an illustrated report entitled 'Mutley..A Way Forward' (Appendix 9). Commissioned by the Mutley Community Association and with funding from RIBA's Community Architecture Scheme, this study provides a brief history of Mutley Plain, a survey of local needs and suggestions for environmental improvements including artworks. The '..Way Forward' document provides the background to the Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative, a core element of which is the development of an integrated public art and environmental improvement scheme.

Local Partnership Activity

Since publication of '..the Way Forward' document, there continues to be a commitment from local groups to tackle common issues in partnership with the City Council in order to bring about positive and lasting change on Mutley Plain.

Key project partners are:

Mutley Baptist Church
As well as a focus for religious activity on Mutley Plain, the church building houses a wide variety of more secular community activity, including a choir, youth groups, a creche, a lunch club and so on. Funding secured by the church from the Heritage Lottery programme to support building improvements forms part of the wider Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative funding package.
Mutley Community Association
The driving force behind the '...Way Forward' document, the Mutley Community Association, recognises the importance of maintaining the Mutley Plain shops and improving their environment in order to provide a focus of activity for the local community.
Mutley Traders & Business Association
A key partner in the Mutley Plain Regeneration Initiative, the Traders Association regards the initiative as being vital in maintaining the range of shopping provision in Mutley Plain and recognises that the project's limited funding has the potential to have a wide impact.

The Public Art Programme

Based on suggestions in the '...Way Forward' document, one of the first challenges for the project partnership was to establish a mechanism by which rough ideas for environmental improvements linked with public art could be turned into practical solutions. Working initially with Public Art South West, project officers set about establishing the framework for delivering a programme of environmental improvements with public art.

Objectives

The primary objective of the programme is to transform the appearance and environment of Mutley Plain. It was proposed that this would best be acheived through the establishment of a commissioning team, involving a lead artist and project manager working in partnership with the local community.

Through the involvement of a lead artist, the project's secondary objectives are to:

The Commissions

Following a period of research and consultation, and bearing in mind the overall aim to bring some form of 'greening' back to Mutley Plain, the commissioning team decided to pursue the following commissions:

 

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