Plymouth Landmark The Ship sets sail under New Ownership

Posted on 17 July, 2015 by Neil Bird

An award winning Plymouth building, The Ship at Derriford, has been sold to local property developer Burrington Estates, after appearing destined for demolition earlier in the year.


Completed in 1993 for regional newspaper The Western Morning News, the Sir Nicholas Grimshaw designed glass and steel landmark reflects the city’s maritime heritage, with the office element in the ‘bow’ and production in the ‘stern’. It also features one of the best boardrooms in the city in the ‘crow’s nest’.

The Ship has stood empty since the newspaper relocated to Millbay in 2013 and, in February, owners Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) applied to Plymouth City Council to demolish the building after failing to find a buyer.

The proposal faced immediate opposition, with both Historic England and the Twentieth Century Society calling for the building to be granted protection. Lord Richard Rogers, the architect of City of London landmarks the Lloyd’s Building and the ‘Cheesegrater’, also spoke out against the proposed demolition.

In May, Burrington Estates emerged as potential saviours of The Ship when they outlined plans to transform it into a business centre. With the sale now complete, the building’s future looks secure and the refurbishment of the 115,000 sq ft of office space can go ahead.

There are also proposals to create opportunities for up-and-coming manufacturing companies at the three-storey building, which is set in an attractive 12.7 acre landscaped site.

Along with Colliers International, locally based commercial property specialists Vickery Holman represented the vendors.

Commenting on the sale Vickery Holman’s Joanne Harwood, said: “It is certainly one of the largest property transactions in Plymouth is recent years and we had a few false starts. Finding the right purchaser for such a unique building has certainly taken a lot of man hours and expertise.

“Despite first impressions, the building is very flexible and once refurbished will provide a wide range of opportunities from small to large offices through to production and warehousing. In addition the space would be suitable for a range of leisure or even retail uses in such a rapidly developing area of Plymouth.”

Mike Oldrieve, also of Vickery Holman, added that he remembers attending the opening of The Ship at the outset of his career as a Chartered Surveyor.

“One of the great bonuses of working in property is having the opportunity to advise on some of the region’s larger and more interesting projects and The Ship has certainly been that,” he continued.

“I think it has a great role to play in Plymouth’s future and I look forward to many more years of association with the building.”

Speaking on behalf of Colliers International, Director James Preece said: “It is fantastic that this landmark building has been bought by a local developer for an enterprise hub. The unique design offers inspiring space and the proposed use should see new jobs and talent moving to the area.”

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