Sound Talking to kick off in 2022 with free aquarium weekend

Laura White
Laura White

Plymouth City Council is creating a cracking team of designers to help shape Plymouth Sound National Marine Park… and that includes you! They are looking for people with bags of ideas, who want to get involved in something special that could change the lives of an entire city.

No experience of creating a national marine park required – because it’s a first. But lots of enthusiasm and the ability to get on well with folk from all walks of life is vital.

The call out comes ahead of a year of excitement, free activities and conversations with the people of Plymouth to shape the marine park. If you are a National Lottery player, you have helped to make this happen and there will be special events running over the season to say thank you.

The year of Sound Talking will begin at the start of 2022. One of the first events will be the National Marine Aquarium throwing open its doors in spring for a free weekend to get the conversation going.

Over the open weekend the NMA will showcase all the exciting things that makes Plymouth Sound so special. It will encourage people to share their ideas on what could make the NMP world class, from the simple to the extraordinary.

There will be a National Marine Park festival with free events across the city enabling everyone to try getting in, on and under the water. The council will also be working with marine sports clubs to spotlight their activities and programmes to ensure everyone knows how they can get involved.

For technology fans, a people’s digital park day is being planned for people to tell us about what sort of digital investment would rock your boat. This could be anything from remote cameras at locations the rest of us can’t reach, marine traffic spotters, tide information, games and immersive experiences.

Council Leader Nick Kelly said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something unique. This is the first of its kind in the country. We have set out some exciting ideas, but we want to hear yours too.

‘If you don’t often go in or on the Sound, what’s stopping you? Talk to us and we can feed all these ideas into our plans. We can’t do this without you.

‘I am passionate about our waterfront, the Sound and the potential the National Marine Park has and I’d like to thank the National Heritage Lottery Fund for awarding us substantial funding to make this happen. I can’t wait to see what other ideas come forward.”

The National Marine Park has cross party support within the Council. Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of the opposition added: “We want the NMP to be the People’s Park. Over the next year we will be asking all of you how the NMP can support your community, your business and how you spend your free time. Tell us what you think as you can help drive the shape of the park.”

In July the Council was awarded a Heritage Horizon Award of £9.6 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to make its vision of a park in the sea a reality. The park aims to reconnect an entire city to the sea, the marine environment and its history. It’s based on three key elements:
• physical infrastructure: creating gateways to the park with improved facilities at Tinside cove and pool, Mount Batten Peninsula and water sports centre, the National Marine Aquarium, Mount Edgcumbe as well as enhancing community access points though out the park;

• social infrastructure – a city-wide community engagement programme designed to get all Plymothians out in, on, under and next to the water and develop new ‘green’ marine employment opportunities;

• digital park – using the latest tech to create new ways of engaging people with the park and learning about its hidden treasures without getting wet.

Each gateway will have a focus that will inspire more people to explore, connect and enjoy the sea in all sorts of different ways.

• Tinside – for health and wellbeing activities.

• National Marine Aquarium – a hub for nature and the environment.

• Mount Batten – active recreation.

• Mount Edgcumbe – heritage: learning about the Sound’s epic history including over 600 wrecks beneath the waves.

• Smart Sound – digital harnessing of the power of the latest digital technology.

The NMP is already being brought to life with a £625,000 ‘Getting Building Fund’ grant from the Heart of the South West LEP, mainly targeted at physical improvements along the foreshore, designed to make access to the waters of the Sound safer, including at Mount Batten, Tinside and Firestone Bay.

The Council recently advertised for the post of chief executive officer to steer the park and at a recent cabinet meeting confirmed acceptance of the £921,500 funding offer by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and allocating £500k of Council match-funding for the development phase of the project.

Local Life