08 November 2007

Longfield House

© Gora Gray

City Councillors have approved a scheme convert Plymouth's last remaining prison building into a block of flats. Persimmon wants to convert the tower of the former Plymouth Borough Prison, a landmark site next to Greenbank Road, bordering a new fire station, into six flats.
Remaining buildings from the prison - which date from 1849 - will be knocked down to make way for 58 flats in blocks of two and three storeys and three two-bedroom houses.

Councillors were unsure whether to grant the application or not. They wanted to make sure the prison tower was kept but also that more than 30 per cent of all homes were 'affordable'.
But Persimmon did not put that possibility forward, so seven councillors voted for the scheme, with just three against and one abstention.
An officer report said the prison was 'historically and architecturally important'.
It said: "The structures are considered to be a positive landmark, informing and enhancing local views and fronting a key route through this area."
The site is recorded as the location of the Civil War period Holiwell Redoubt, built by the Parliamentarian defenders of the city. Archaeological surveys have found that the remains of a fort may lie underground.
Mark Evans, the council's case officer for the development, said, during the meeting, that the building 'informs a local view at the gateway to Mutley'. He also called it a 'landmark feature' and labelled it of 'historical importance'.
Cllr Wendy Foster, Plymstock Radford councillor, said: "It has been a landmark for many years in our city.
"It is a very well-loved building and should be preserved. We are losing far too many of our historic buildings in our city."

It will indeed be sad to see this fine building go. Eversince the old Medical records department pulled out years ago the building has been pretty much left to rot. I have fond memories of this building as I actually worked there from 1982 for a few years before we were sent off to a non descript shed at Scott Hospital. The old Court Room in the main tower was still in place with all its fine old wood panneling although again very much neglected and usually full of pigeons.

I actually worked deep in the basement in the old prison cells. It was damp and dirty and by todays health and safety standards unfit to work in - but it was a great old building which really deserved to get another use. Its a shame to see most of it dissappear under what will probably end up as yet another bland housing estate - even if the tower itself might remain. This area has seen some fine old grand buildings dissappear for good.

See Gora's excellent photo collection here for more pictures of Longfield House


  1. "We are losing far too many of our historic buildings in our city."

    Yes, and it is this person's colleagues who want to destroy the Civic Centre, one of the most important buildings in Plymouth and in the UK. Perhaps the city councillors and shadow councillors could look at their own actions...

  2. building are there to be used Grimbo, if a use is not found for it, it will become derelict, obsolescent then abused. the civic center is riddled with defects and is structurally unsafe and can no longer be used. yes it was an iconic building in its time but why not demolish and start again? create another iconic monument in its place, it would be much cheaper and will bring generate interest and trade.


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