Chris Gates, managing director of Princess Yachts International, is said to be “over the moon” following the Plymouth Council granting planning permission for the company’s £45m superyacht facility. Having secured this key approval, Princess is now in negotiation with the UK’s Ministry of Defence over buying the freehold for the South Yard site within Devonport Dockyard.
The new facility will be used to support Princess’s major investment into the 30m (100ft)-plus superyacht market. To date the company has launched two designs for 32m (105ft) and 40m (131ft) yachts and is in the process of constructing one of each to meet customer orders.
Gates does not see the freehold negotiation as a problem but what the company does need to do is build up a strong order book for its superyacht designs. The planning application did draw some opposition, not least from English Heritage because the main building in the complex is a five-storey, 300,000sq ft construction hall.
Now that approval has been obtained, work on the first of three phases, worth some £15m, will start as soon as possible. The development will also create about 200 new jobs as well as securing existing jobs. The new complex, apart from the huge hall, will also include a “shallow dock” that will allow work to be done on yachts of up to 50m (164ft) while afloat.