Event pontoons and waterside walkway would connect Plymouth’s historic Sutton Harbour

Floating event pontoons and a new waterside public walkway circling Plymouth’s historic harbour could be installed in Sutton Harbour by the spring if planning permission is approved.

Sutton Harbour Group plc has now submitted an application for full planning permission and listed building consent to Plymouth City Council to enable the immediate installation of the pontoons, along with a new, extended pedestrian walkway linking Vauxhall Quay with Guys Quay.

The walkway would complete the circular harbourside Heritage Trail, enabling people to more easily enjoy the harbour and walk around the edge of the harbourfront in a continuous route.

Both the walkway and pontoons could be installed in time for the spring/summer season if approved, enabling their use during the Mayflower 400 commemoration year and enhancing access around the harbour in time to benefit the increased numbers visiting the city for Mayflower 400 events.

The floating event pontoons would be available to host a range of events on the water in Sutton Harbour, including live music concerts, film festivals, exercise classes like yoga on the water and live big screen showings of major sporting events.

The pontoons could also be used for community events and popular family-friendly events hosted annually in Britain’s Ocean City, such as Plymouth Pirate Weekend and Plymouth Seafood Festival.

Philip Beinhaker, Executive Chairman of Sutton Harbour Group plc, said: “Sutton Harbour Group is committed to supporting the development of Plymouth’s waterfront and making best use of its historic harbourside, especially during 2020 with the city in the spotlight for the Mayflower 400 commemorations and an expected influx of visitors to the waterfront.

“We hope Plymouth City Council will approve the final application that we have now completed, following approval by the Marine Management Organisation on 14th October 2019 and of the pre-application submission that we made to PCC on 25th July 2019. The pontoons and walkway will help improve circulation and activity around Sutton Harbour, as well as creating two new event spaces on the water within the harbour itself, in time for the busy calendar of Mayflower 400 events this year.”

Sutton Harbour Group already has planning permission for the Boardwalk development to connect Vauxhall Quay and Guys Quay but the new walkways are a simpler solution which can be delivered swiftly, and in time for the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

The two floating event pontoons would be sited on water off Vauxhall Quay and in the corner of the harbour near The Parade, in areas not already being used as they are too shallow for mooring boats.

A floating walkway would connect the pontoons, as well as linking Vauxhall Quay and Guys Quay on the harbourside, creating a continuous pedestrian route around the harbour’s edge.

Pedestrians would be able to access the pontoons from two entry points – one in Vauxhall Quay via the existing gated entry to the marina pontoons sited next to The Stable, which would be expanded and the bridge extended to enable disabled access.

A second, new entry point would be created on Guys Quay in front of the car park next to Boston Tea Party, with ramps hinged to the quay wall and the fixed bridge off Vauxhall Quay.

Sutton Harbour Group commissioned a full Heritage Appraisal and Impact assessment to inform the planning application and this found the new walkways would cause only a “low level” of potential harm to the historic environment, which was outweighed by the “significant” public benefits brought about by increasing access around the harbour’s edge.

The assessment found the walkway was a “matter to be welcomed and celebrated” as it would “greatly enhance enjoyment” of the historic harbour.

The pontoons themselves would be removable platforms which would not harm the character or appearance of Sutton Harbour and have no negative impact on the historical environment.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has granted consent for installation work to accommodate the pontoons and walkway, issuing a marine licence and reporting no potential environment effects as a result of the project. An ecological assessment carried out to identify any ecological and nature conversation issues identified no constraints.

Philip Beinhaker added: “The company is focused on enhancing the public’s ability to access and enjoy Sutton Harbour. Our developments on the eastern side of the harbour will create two signature, mixed-use residential and commercial buildings at Harbour Arch Quay and Sugar Quay and enable the vitally-needed regeneration and transformation of this under-used area, enriching the eastern side of the harbour.

“The new pontoons and walkway will enable an immediate improvement to circulation and activity on the western side of the harbour while these major developments are being progressed.”

As they will be floating, moveable structures, the event pontoons could be relocated to other locations around Sutton Harbour as future developments proceed in the area.