It couldn’t be more of a contrast for Plymouth’s new waterfront manager – she has swapped a down-at-heel patch of land-locked Birmingham for the sweeping vista of Plymouth Sound.
Diane Mansell will take over in September as chief executive of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership’s Business Improvement District (PWP BID).
She succeeds Sarah Gibson who stepped down after 10 years to become chief executive of the University of Plymouth’s Students’ Union.
Ms Mansell currently manages the Soho Road BID in Birmingham. Soho Road is a notorious red-light district which has been plagued by streetwalkers and kerb crawlers.
But it is also a business hot-spot and Ms Mansell oversaw a joyous Diwali festival of lights, in October 2019, which brought an estimated 20,000 people to the one and a quarter mile long strip.
Her new patch will embrace a vast area of Plymouth’s seafront, which extends from Mount Batten and Coxside, around Sutton Harbour, the Barbican and the Hoe, all the way to Stonehouse peninsula, and only just skirts Plymouth’s red-light zone at Millbay.
Ms Mansell has taken the post to help develop the role of the PWP in Plymouth and one of her main tasks will be to develop strategic links with major stakeholders.
This will include involving the BID in the city’s regeneration plans, such as Plymouth City Council’s economic recovery plan, named Resurgam, Plymouth’s new Visitor Plan for 2020-30 and the emerging National Marine Park, as well as beginning to plan for the renewal of the Waterfront BID in 2022.
Plymouth has two BIDs, Plymouth City Centre Company, which covers the retail heart of the city centre, and PWP which covers four square miles of waterfront with a vibrant mix of hospitality, retail, leisure, office, accommodation and attractions.
Together they represent more than 1,300 businesses and help to promote and manage regeneration schemes, events and street trading generating millions of pounds of investment.
Nick Buckland, chair of PWP, said: “BIDs have already made a huge impact in Plymouth and there is great potential to expand their role and make a telling difference to the city’s future development, particularly to help businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19.
“Diane recognises the opportunities BIDs represent and I’m thrilled she is joining us. She has a very impressive track record in delivering BIDs, plus major regeneration and community projects in and around Birmingham.
“This is a key appointment and Diane will be a fantastic asset, who has recently won the Queens Award for voluntary service.
“I look forward to working with her over what will be an exciting year ahead of us, leading up to the ballot for PWP and setting out the strategic vision for BIDs for the next five years.”
Business Live’s Plymouth journalist is William Telford, business editor at Plymouth Live.
To contact William:
Phone: 01752 293116
William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in the Ocean City.
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Ms Mansell, who holds a BSc combined honours degree in public policy, management and business administration, said: “It’s a terrific opportunity for me to move the Waterfront BID to the next level, making a significant contribution to the city that I’ve fallen in love with.
“I’ve hugely benefited from working in Birmingham and I look forward to meeting everyone involved with the Waterfront’s development at the heart of Britain’s Ocean City.
“I want to ensure the success the BIDs have enjoyed over the past few years is built upon and together with our key partners, such as at the LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), Destination Plymouth and the city council, that we harness the potential of the city’s private sector to continue to drive the Waterfront’s economy forward.”
Pete Smith, deputy leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Diane to the role and to our incredible city. The waterfront is the jewel in Plymouth’s crown – we’re very proud of it and are committed to making it the best it can be for businesses, locals and visitors alike.
“The BID’s role is especially important during this difficult time, so we look forward to working together to support waterfront businesses and drive economic recovery.”