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An international city
About > Plan Structure > An International City

Vision For Plymouth

An International City

Where we are trying to get to


This is about how the city projects itself to the wider world, to people who might invest in or visit the city, the sense of pride that local people take in their city and how Plymouth's businesses engage with an increasingly global market place.

Plymouth has adopted the branding of Britain's Ocean City, reflecting the pride that the city takes in its unique maritime heritage and stunning setting, but also the city's ambition and its confidence in what is has to offer. However, to be known as an international city it is vital that Plymouth realises greater value from its unique assets.

Plymouth has a strong consensus around its aspirations to be recognised at an international level for being: a waterfront city; a university with world-wide reputation and world-class assets in relation to marine science and technologies; one of the finest regional theatres in the country; and a maritime heritage of world-wide significance, including Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada, and the sailing of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower (Mayflower 400) in 2020 provides the potential for an internationally significant event. It will be a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to present 'Britain's Ocean City' to the world and can act as a driver for business growth in marine and related industries, the visitor economy, the culture of the city and raising the city's profile and reputation in the global market place. It also provides an opportunity to 17 engage with the local community, to engender civic pride and to develop legacy projects and significant partner relationships with overseas communities with links to the Mayflower story. These and other unique assets need to be used to Plymouth’s advantage.

Although Plymouth is a relatively strong exporter of goods, export growth is an appropriate intent for an international city. The city It has considerable marine, medical/healthcare, advanced manufacturing and tourism strengths, with a number of international businesses, and there is clearly potential for businesses to do more to reap the economic rewards from international trade.

A glimpse at what an 'international city' might look like in 2034:

  • Every resident can feel proud not just about Plymouth's unique past as a city of great importance internationally, but also of its status as a modern international city.
  • Plymouth provides an internationally competitive cultural and visitor offer, optimising the value of and developing the product within its existing destinations such as Royal William Yard, The Hoe, The Barbican and Sutton Harbour, the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth Theatre Royal and Plymouth Life Centre, and linking them to new destination product offerings such as The Box, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park and the Dartmoor/South Hams hinterland, so that the city is recognised as a 'must do' visitor destination internationally.
  • The Box is managed as a unique new asset, creating great pride in the city amongst local people, and raising Plymouth's profile to investors and visitors from other parts of the country and world.
  • Plymouth has a major international programme with a range of live international projects working across Europe, US, China and beyond that contributes to trade and investment in the creative and cultural industries across the city.
  • Plymouth’s unique historic waterfront has been transformed through improvements to public spaces and key heritage assets, such as The Hoe and The Barbican, as well as hosting major events for art, culture and sport. Plymouth Sound, its estuaries and watersides are managed comprehensively as an economic, social and environmental asset of international renown through designation as a National Marine Park.
  • Water transport investment has improved access to and opportunities at key locations such as Mount Batten, Sutton Harbour, Millbay, Royal William Yard, Devonport and Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, as well as providing wider connections to waterfront communities such as Turnchapel, Torpoint and Saltash.
  • The Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2020 has created a strong legacy both for the visitor economy and for local people, through improved public realm and waterfront access and lasting economic benefits, and has been a catalyst for cultural development across the city.
  • Plymouth has built on its reputation for excellent hospitality and food and drink, with major new investment in quality hotels and visitor accommodation.
  • Plymouth's position in the global market place has been greatly strengthened through business growth, inward investment and well developed access to new markets, supported by optimal post-BREXIT port and other trade arrangements.
  • The design of new buildings and of public spaces in the city centre, along Plymouth’s waterfront and at gateways to the city reflect the quality to be expected of Britain's Ocean City.
  • New/expanding marine business areas have been fully developed and is are driving wider investment in the city and regional economy, helping maintain Plymouth’s reputation as a world leader in the marine sciences and technology sector.
  • Plymouth University's campus has expanded and supported the regeneration of the city centre, and the city's three universities and research institutions are collectively giving Plymouth a strong international profile.
  • Radical improvements are made to key city gateways, with high quality and modern arrival points through the city centre's railway station and coach station and an accessible and modernised Millbay port, including the provision of a larger and more accessible cruise liner terminal.
  • Plymouth is recognised internationally as a leading sustainable clean, green city through its environmental credentials and the role that residents, businesses and visitors have all played in the addressing of the Climate Emergency.

What we are trying to achieve


Plymouth is internationally renowned as Britain's Ocean City and is the UK's premier marine city, famous for its waterfront and being home to the UK’s first National Marine Park. It is recognised as unique among UK cities for its natural drama and for its 500 year old history as a place of embarkation and exploration. Plymouth’s continuing journey towards a world leading marine city supports the cultural experiences it offers to visitors who are looking for authenticity and character. The city's world class universities and research institutions are recognised for their innovation, and Plymouth is a place where businesses can capitalise on a unique economic position and talented workforce. Visitors from around the world are welcomed to a city that provides a diverse cultural experience and a perfect base for enjoying the city’s surrounds, land and marine. Plymouth is an international city that local communities can enjoy, be a part of and be proud of.

Plymouth is a city with assets that are internationally significant. They are assets which if harnessed correctly will play a major role in supporting the long term transformation of the city and the achievement of its vision to be known as one of Europe's most vibrant waterfront cities.

Plymouth has a world class natural setting. With the backdrop of Dartmoor to the north, it has an outstanding waterfront with the deep harbour of Plymouth Sound to the south and the estuaries and rivers of the Plym and Tamar to the east and west. It is also in close proximity to some of the best beaches and landscapes in the UK.

The city’s maritime heritage is one of worldwide significance, including Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada and the sailing of the Mayflower Pilgrims. With dramatic views across the Sound, Plymouth Hoe and its historic waterfront also provides a natural auditorium for national and international events and is the location of the iconic Smeaton’s Tower and one of the finest art deco lidos in England. Additionally, Royal William Yard is considered to be one of the most important groups of historic military buildings in Britain, and includes the largest collection of Grade 1 listed military buildings in Europe. The extensive Waterfront connects Mount Batten Watersports Centre and South Hams with the historic naval dockyard at Devonport and Mount Edgecombe with the South West Coast Path a nationally significant trail at its heart.

Plymouth also plays host to significant national attractions with one of the finest and best attended regional theatres in the country (Theatre Royal Plymouth), the National Marine Aquarium, The Box and Plymouth Life Centre.


To enhance Plymouth's profile as an international city where the city projects itself to people who might invest, study or visit the city; to encourage and support Plymouth's businesses to engage in trading terms in an increasingly global market place; and to ensure the city fulfils its potential as a distinctive, dynamic, cultural centre of international renown. This will be achieved by:

  1. Driving productivity through support for the growth of internationally significant businesses, including those with sovereign/defence capabilities, attracting new investment into the city (for example through establishing a Marine Technology Park at Oceansgate) and encouraging all businesses to expand trading in the global market place.
  2. Raising the profile of Plymouth internationally through it's Britain's Ocean City brand and Mayflower 400 in 2020 as a key catalyst and driver, and through the presence of the UK’s first National Marine Park.
  3. Promoting Plymouth as an internationally competitive tourist destination, with improving road, rail, air and sea and digital connectivity, providing an accessible visitor experience which capitalises on the city’s world class waterfront and maritime heritage and natural and built heritage assets, and delivers a long standing economic legacy for the city.
  4. Establishing Plymouth as a distinctive, vibrant, cultural city known on the international stage for its rich heritage, creative industries and unparallelled natural setting, having an equally strong appeal for residents, students, visitors and investors.
  5. Providing innovative, high quality architectural development to set the city apart and create an attractive, forward looking environment.
  6. Providing a full range of hotel and visitor accommodation, including new high quality provision, to ensure that there is adequate accommodation capacity for all visitors.
  7. Recognising Plymouth internationally as a leading green city that has made exemplary progress on addressing its carbon footprint.
  8. Further developing our universities, research institutions and knowledge based industries which are widely known for their innovation and world class assets.
  9. Delivering a strong, diverse and dynamic city that welcomes new residents, students and visitors and that celebrates cultural diversity.

How we will know if we've been successful

A. Plymouth continues to improve its diverse cultural and sporting experience with great venues, major events, good food and hospitality offer.

B. Plymouth is internationally renowned as a leading UK tourist destination.

C. Plymouth is recognised internationally for expertise in marine science and high technology manufacturing.

D. Plymouth's reputation for world class universities and research institutions continues to grow.

E. Plymouth's reputation is strengthened as a welcoming, multicultural city where a broad range of partners promote the benefits of diversity.

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

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