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Demolition plan for former newspaper offices condemned as ‘madness’

Plans by the Daily Mail group to demolish the award-winning former offices of two regional dailies have been slammed as “madness.”

The so-called ‘Big Glass Ship’ building in Plymouth was designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, architect of the Eden Project, and was home to the Western Morning News and Plymouth Herald for 20 years.

The two titles vacated the £33.5m building, in Derriford on the outskirts of the city, for a more central base in 2013.

Now Daily Mail and General Trust, which still owns the iconic building, has applied to Plymouth City Council to demolish it.

Plymouth-Herald-moving-offices

The building, pictured above, has three floors encased in glass walls made up of 650 panels hung on a framework of 37 steel ‘tusks’, curving in two directions to create the appearance of a ship’s hull – with a boardroom at the top of the tower.

The two newspapers who occupied it were previously owned by Northcliffe Media which was sold to Local World at the start of 2013.

But DMGT, the parent company of Northcliffe, retained the ownership of the building along with other newspaper centres as part of the deal.

The two newspapers moved to their current offices at Millbay Road, Plymouth in June of that year.

The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, West Briton and Cornish Guardian were among the titles printed on presses at the site, which could produce up to 60,000 copies an hour.

Plymouth City Council member Maddi Bridgeman told The Herald she is “horrified” that the structure could be demolished.

She added: “I am shocked. The architecture is amazing. It is a beautiful building. It is the sort of building that ought to be cherished, not demolished.

“It would be madness to knock it down.”

Other buildings designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw include London’s Waterloo railway station and Heathrow Terminal 3.

No further details of DMGT’s plans are available, but members of the public can comment on the demolition proposal until 17 March.

11 comments

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  • February 23, 2015 at 9:19 am
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    If it’s not used and will only continue to decay, what’s the point of keeping it? If it is cherished then someone should buy it and do something with it.

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  • February 23, 2015 at 10:01 am
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    I’ve never seen the building in person so I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I’ve always admired it – so few newspaper offices are more than boxes.

    Part of the problem here is the extreme difficulty of obtaining statutory protection (listing etc.) for such recent buildings. If it were a hundred years older the debate would have more objective clarity – campaign for a listing and sooner or later a decision would be taken on relatively informed grounds.

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  • February 23, 2015 at 10:21 am
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    Alas there is no room for sentimentality in the business these days, the bean counters rule

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  • February 23, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Looks good on the outside but tatty and dated inside.

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  • February 23, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    Why is this story on this site? A company that doesn’t publish local media wants to demolish a building that doesn’t house local media.

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  • February 23, 2015 at 11:05 am
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    In fairness, they’ve already taken a wrecking ball to the newspapers mentioned by handing over management of them to Local World (and thus having a convenient ‘fig leaf’ to mask their continued collection of profits from them), so why not complete the job by demolishing the building?

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  • February 23, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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    If nobody wants to buy a building that is no longer of any use to DMGT it cannot just be left to rot away? It is indeed a beautiful, breathtaking structure which was my professional ‘home’ for ten very happy and rewarding years but if no other business in Plymouth ( the community to which it was dedicated ) is interested in acquiring it,which is hard to understand,what is DMGT to do? The city council should have used its very considerable power and influence to find a suitable, imaginative use for ‘The Ship’ – thus saving it for Plymouth -long before now.

    Barrie Williams – Editor, Western Morning News ( 1995-2005 )

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  • February 23, 2015 at 3:48 pm
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    Place should not have been built in the first place in my opinion! Papers should never have moved from the city centre where everything was on the doorstep including readers! Still no room for sentiment these days.

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  • February 23, 2015 at 6:07 pm
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    Could the City Council move there, then redevelop Ballard House?

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  • February 24, 2015 at 9:16 am
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    Ian Park’s folly, a monument to the days when we opened the windows and let the Sits Vac revenue fly in.

    Happy Days

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