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A growing city
About > Plan Structure > A Growing City

Vision For Plymouth

A Growing City

Where we are trying to get to


This is about using Plymouth’s economic, social and environmental strengths to drive quality growth which transforms the city’s long term prosperity, so that the needs of all of its people are met and they benefit from the highest quality of services and facilities.

Plymouth’s vision for growth is led by improvements to the local economy. An economy-led inclusive growth strategy requires a strategic approach to economic development which supports all sectors of the economy and builds upon the city's key strengths, such as the marine, medical/healthcare and advanced manufacturing sectors. This helps address the city’s low productivity and delivers economic growth. Part of this agenda is to optimise the benefits to be derived to the city from its cultural offer, and to nurture businesses in the creative sector.

Since the ‘Mackay Vision’ was published, Plymouth has aspired to grow to a city with a population in excess of 300,000. Although there is no precise science to this figure, large and prosperous cities and their sub regions can sustain high-quality services through increased demand in a way that smaller cities with less prosperous sub regions cannot.

A key challenge will be to ensure that residents have the necessary training and skills and that key infrastructure is in place to ensure the city has the right environment for growth and investment. It will also be crucial to ensure that growth does not damage the city’s special qualities but instead builds upon what is already good about the city; its local community spirit, its exceptional waterfront and green spaces, and its culture and heritage.

Growth also provides the opportunity to support a low carbon economy, responding to the challenge of climate change and making Plymouth more resilient to its impact. Cities that pro-actively respond to the business challenges and opportunities presented by the shift to a low carbon economy will be more competitive and resilient in the long term. The city already has a substantial reputation for sustainability, being recognised as one of the Forum for the Future’s leading ‘green’ cities. Research has shown that the city’s low carbon and environmental industries will outstrip growth in other industries by a significant margin over the decade to 2025 (The Low Carbon and Environmental Economy in Plymouth, 2011, RED Group, Plymouth Business School).

A glimpse at what a ‘growing city’ might look like in 2034:

  • Plymouth is a significant hub for the south west, bringing together business infrastructure, world-class research facilities and expertise, with a thriving knowledge economy.
  • Plymouth’s key economic strengths and assets (such as the marine and maritime sector, the defence sector, advanced manufacturing, medical and healthcare and the visitor economy), and its primary economic nodes (the city centre/Waterfront and Derriford) have seen strong and sustained clean, green growth over a protracted period, re-balancing and driving the sub regional economy.
  • Businesses across all sectors of the economy have addressed their own carbon emissions and the city has seen the development of a significant business sector enabling others, businesses and households, to do so.
  • All people in the city have an increased ability to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from its growth and economic prosperity.
  • Plymouth's digital/creative and cultural industries have seen significant growth, with new businesses and trade and investment on a national and international scale. This has contributed to a greater retention of creative graduates and also attracted graduates from other areas of the UK.
  • Plymouth’s young people have the skills they need to find productive employment, through the provision of high quality education, and are supported by the momentum generated through the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal.
  • The city's graduates choose to stay in Plymouth, entering employment, starting businesses, contributing to its success and contributing to its entrepreneurial spirit.
  • The city centre is enhanced and regenerated as a vibrant modern mixed-use regional shopping centre of appropriate scale for prevailing retail patterns, with high levels of Internet connectivity, high quality high density urban living, and a hub for culture and leisure to serve the wider city.
  • The historic Waterfront is enhanced as the showcase for the city, a hub for culture and major events, an international gateway with high quality waterside living and enjoyment of the sea, and a wholly accessible and inclusive destination.
  • Around 19,000 new homes have been provided to meet the housing needs of economic growth and the local population, helping to build a city of quality sustainable neighbourhoods.
  • Plymouth is a smart city having created a socio-digital ecosystem where the city shares data and information between partners and the community through an ‘open first’ approach, delivering better co-operation, engagement and involvement, and unlocking the full capacity of local people and businesses to contribute to growth.
  • Key transport, digital (for example 5G/fibre) and other infrastructure projects needed to enable this growth have been delivered, as have projects to create the right environment for growth and investment in the marine industries (for example through the Smart Sound), knowledge-based industries and the visitor economy.
  • The Central Park masterplan and major new strategic parks at Derriford and Saltram have been completed. A new heart for the north of Plymouth has been delivered at Derriford and is thriving, anchored by the new Derriford District Centre.
  • Derriford is an established hub for new industries and commerce delivering high quality jobs.
  • The wide ranging value of Plymouth Sound and the estuaries is formally recognised through its designation as a National Marine Park and optimised in a way which maintains its environmental status.
  • The population has played an active role in developing the city’s resilience to climate change leading to Plymouth's carbon footprint has been being substantially reduced, with the achievement of net-zero by 2030, and the city is more resilient to the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change.
  • Plymouth's new architecture and innovative urban design are considered to be some of the highest quality and most inspiring in the UK.
  • The growing city has respected the surrounding Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its distinctive character landscapes enabling it to be protected and enhanced for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

What we are trying to achieve


Plymouth has used its economic, social, environmental and cultural strengths to deliver quality and sustainable growth. The city’s long term prosperity has been improved, and its economy has been transformed and rebalanced. It has raised its productivity, and provides higher average wages as well as employment opportunities to support a skilled and talented workforce. Its population has grown to nearly 300,000 by 2034.


To create the conditions for high quality and sustainable growth (clean growth), which meets the present and future needs of Plymouth residents and businesses and transforms the city into a prosperous place to live, work and visit, and to empower people to equip themselves with the skills and to find the opportunities to take advantage of that prosperity. This will be achieved by:

  1. Building on our industrial strengths to continue to transform and re-balance the economy, building a strong inward investment and export portfolio with a focus on productivity and higher value, knowledge based industries (including marine/marine technology, advanced manufacturing, creative/digital, and the medical/healthcare sector and high value international tourism), alongside supporting the city’s valued naval/defence presence.
  2. Developing a new and substantial cross-sector strength in businesses addressing, and supporting others to address, the climate emergency.
  3. Capitalising on Plymouth as a 'city of makers', using this wealth to drive the creative economy by retaining more creative graduates and attracting makers on a national scale to locate to Plymouth.
  4. Managing the city’s growth and change, in a way that minimises carbon emissions, is resilient and adaptive to future technological and environmental changes and impacts, and which provides sustainable solutions for development, energy, waste and water catchment management.
  5. Creating an environment where businesses can thrive and where the aspiration and talent of the city's population is harnessed and new talent, ideas and innovation attracted to the city.
  6. Developing quality jobs and valuable skills, including supporting those who are underemployed or outside of the labour market, allowing everyone to benefit from increased growth and prosperity.
  7. Maintaining and enhancing Plymouth’s natural networks, providing the green and blue natural spaces needed to support the social and economic wellbeing of Plymouth, recognising its important role in managing climate change and achieving net-zero as well as safeguarding the natural environment for future generations.
  8. Delivering a sustainable transport network that supports Plymouth’s long term growth while at the same time addressing existing carbon emissions.
  9. Delivering a positive and sustainable approach to waste management that optimises its economic and social benefits, whilst minimising adverse environmental impacts.

The City Vision is to become one of Europe's most vibrant waterfront cities. This vision is underpinned by growth which achieves a transformation in the Plymouth's long term prosperity. This transformation will be driven by the economic, social and environmental strengths of Plymouth which have the ability to generate long term, sustainable growth.

Whilst we have seen tangible improvements in the health of the city's economy, a number of long-term structural challenges remain. We must continue to focus on these if we are to fully realise our potential as the urban driver of the wider sub-regional economy. Improving our productivity is at the core of this, and is a recognised challenge regionally and nationally.

This strategic outcome has a very close alignment with the HotSW LEPs Productivity Strategy Vision which is ‘for all parts of the Heart of the South West to become more prosperous, for people to have a better quality of life and higher living standards’ and to achieve that by creating ‘a more vibrant economy where the benefits can be shared by everyone’. Improving productivity is seen as key to helping achieve that goal. This is
acknowledged in the UK’s Industrial Strategy which states that “by improving productivity while keeping employment high, we can earn more – raising living standards, providing funds to support our public services and improving the quality of life for all our citizens. So this Industrial Strategy deliberately strengthens the five foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places."

The Plymouth Plan supports the LEP's mission statement and positions Plymouth as a productive and growing city in the following ways:

Economically growing – setting out the strategic framework for economic growth in the city. This includes:

  • Ensuring that the measures are in place to transform the city’s economy, raising productivity, growing our existing businesses, building on our natural and competitive strengths, creating new higher wage job opportunities for people to find work in Plymouth and making sure people have the best possible skills etc. to take advantage of such opportunities, so that everybody benefits from increased growth.
  • Enabling the delivery of homes to provide high quality places for new and existing residents to live, and growing the city’s population to nearly 300,000 by 2034.
  • Ensuring that Plymouth is a place where investors find a positive and welcoming environment for commercial projects and developments.

Socially growing – ensuring that the economic growth of the city benefits as many people as possible and delivers a better quality of life for all. This includes:

  • Managing the growth to ensure that it creates a quality city of well designed places and buildings, a respected and utilised heritage.
  • Ensuring that growth contributes to the creation of sustainable linked neighbourhoods, where local people can create opportunities to improve their neighbourhoods and deliver quality places.
  • Working with partners to engage communities, understand and address barriers to economic inclusion, and enable individuals and groups to be enterprising.

Environmentally growing – the city has an enviable environmental quality and setting which is second to none in the UK. These assets must be utilised to create and promote a city of natural networks. Additionally, the city's low carbon credentials must be built upon, setting ambitious targets for reductions in emissions, ensuring Plymouth is resilient to the impacts of climate change. The city has existing strengths in low carbon and environmental industries and these must play an even more significant role in the transformation of the economy.

How we will know if we've been successful

A. The population has grown close to the city’s ambition of 300,000.

B. Plymouth continues to be recognised as a leading Green City.

C. Plymouth has a vibrant, productive, inclusive and innovative business sector with a workforce that is paid a living wage.

D. The people of Plymouth have the skills to be school ready and work ready to meet the needs of the city, enabling them to avoid poverty.

E. Plymouth continues to strengthen the conditions for increased growth, including ensuring effective infrastructure delivery.

View our progress against the primary indicators on the delivery of the Plymouth Plan on the DATA Plymouth website.

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