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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Plymouth Photo Walk 1 - 15 09 2022

Western Approach Car Park built about 1987. This site was originally a railway route to Mill Bay. The building housed a Sainsbury's Homebase store but is more famous for its Toys R Us that came later in 1992. Architects Igal Yawetz Associates were chosen for the project.


This was the start of my recent photo walk as I had driven past this building a few times and was interested in doing some photos of it and looking into its history and prospects. It is a critical point for this youngster of a development, and the next couple of years will probably see a firm decision on whether it stays or goes. Personally I think it is vital that we reuse buildings like these wherever possible and don't fall into the trap of just bulldozing things for lack of foresight or creativity.


It is a landmark building and so of it's time and so many late 20th century buildings are already gone. It also seems ironic to me that they are often laid waste by the very people who virtue signal about Green issues and the environment. How much worse than single use plastics are single use buildings on this scale. How Green is it to smash something of this size and start from scratch. Where is our imagination?

‘The Western Approach building was intended to increase parking capacity following the pedestrianisation of City Centre, and was included in the Tomorrow’s Plymouth plan, which envisaged making use of the former railway embankment site by building some large commercial premises with a car park, both connected to a leisure centre on the opposite (South) side, which ultimately became the Pavilions. Plymouth Herald

The distinctive development was erected in 1987 at a cost of around £9 million.

‘The architecture of the Western Approach building could most likely be described as a blend of modernism and post-modernism, because it borrows themes from architecture before modernism and expresses it in a simplified, exaggerated form, as well as using elements of more recent modernist buildings.


‘This is seen with the greenhouse/domed structures – which reflect Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace structure (hence post-modernism) – and with the curved edges to the car park decks (now removed), which are similar to those used at the well-known Preston Bus Station car park (built 1968 – 1969 and now a listed structure).’ Plymouth Herald

The parking decks originally had curved panels matching the towers which softened the look of the building, and there were two aerial walkways, across the road system which have since been removed.

The future of the building is uncertain although there is a planned investment in a new lighting system which is a positive sign that it will be updated rather than demolished.










The monumental towers of the car park even rise over the nearby markets area.




What makes a Dementia Friendly Parking Space? Public money, that's what. If this is not pointless virtue signalling writ large I have no idea what it is. It is a parking place just like all the others, in fact there were so many different parking allocations for specialist causes in this building that I had to drive up 3 floors before I found an ordinary one. If there had been one for deaf people I would have been in. Some documents somewhere have been ticked and the money that all public projects are already short of has been spent.


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3 comentários


Membro desconhecido
06 de out. de 2022

I am going about this walk backwards...the newer post before the old. But I find that your captures are what makes these buildings stand out. Showing us the details makes the buildings more interesting to look at. Rather than just looking at the whole and thinking ok another concrete building erected within a major city. I hope I make sense..if not well, you know it's me 😉

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Membro desconhecido
06 de out. de 2022
Respondendo a

Do you know how much I hate you!!! But that entire comment made me laugh out loud. I swear we can NOT be twins no more (maybe) 🤣🤣

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