The Box, Plymouth

  • Location: Plymouth, UK
  • Client: Plymouth City Council
  • Destination: Plymouth History Centre
  • Role: Market analysis, financial model and operational business plan for the development of Plymouth History Centre.

The Plymouth History Centre is designed to consolidate the rich heritage collections of multiple stakeholders in Plymouth. It is an extraordinary example of partners coming together to produce a solution that is not just financially efficient but that also allows the interpretation of a much more comprehensive story about Plymouth and its people.


Our business plan and financial model supported a £14.8 million HLF application toward a £30 million capital project. It was the largest HLF grant approved in the 2016 funding round.

Following a Stage One approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in September 2014, Plymouth City Council (PCC) commissioned Fourth Street to develop a detailed five-year Business Plan to support the Stage 2 submission.

Accordingly, we produced a highly detailed, but flexible and adaptable financial model that achieved a number of complementary objectives:

  1. Consistency with HLF and Arts Council England requirements;
  2. Internal consistency and comparability to the existing accounts of Plymouth City Council and its partner organisations;
  3. Clarity and transparency, such that the whole model could be ‘inherited’ and owned by the Project Team and routinely updated as the project progresses.

As with all such business plans, the process itself uncovers a host of issues that we tested and addressed over the course of the assignment.  This included further market analysis to validate the visitor projection; strategic advice on governance, management and staffing; and specific marketing measures to target key markets like school groups and tourists.  We also ran a host of scenarios to explore different risk management and mitigation measures to ensure the destination’s resilience and sustainability in operation.

The financial model was initially constructed through an in-depth examination and extrapolation of the PCC’s internal accounts, which was then adapted to take account of the new facility.  We also incorporated a series of sensitivity and scenario analyses in order to test the model and challenge key assumptions.

The Business Plan was signed off by the client and transferred to the management team, before it was submitted to the HLF in April 2016.  In August 2016, the HLF announced the approval of a £14.8 million grant for the project, the single largest award in the 2016 funding round.

It was a pleasure to work alongside organisations like Event Communications, Julia Holberry Asssociates and Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, as well as a a tireless and dedicated project team, to achieve such an important result for the city of Plymouth.