Devon

Mayflower Steps: Council's U-turn to keep Plymouth cobbles

West Pier
Image caption West Pier is home to the Mayflower Steps, close to the site from where the Pilgrims are believed to have left England to settle in North America in 1620

A plan to remove historic cobbles from Plymouth's Barbican has been abandoned by the council after complaints.

Plymouth City Council submitted a planning application proposing to remove the cobblestones, from around West Pier, which is home to the historic Mayflower Steps.

It said the revamp would make the area more accessible but campaigners accused the authority of "butchery".

Announcing the change, the council leader said the cobbles would stay put.

"The plan was to re-lay the cobbles nearby on the Barbican but over the last few days it has been made abundantly clear to me that people want to see the cobbles put straight back on West Pier once repairs have been made," said Labour-run council leader Tudor Evans.

"I have listened to what has been said and I have made it clear to the project team that the cobbles must remain on West Pier - and they will."

Image caption The council had planned to lay granite slabs on the pier

The council had said the cobbles needed to be removed so the structure underneath, which is being undermined by water running into it, can be repaired.

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The plan had been to move the existing cobbles nearby to cover an area that is currently Tarmac and use flat slabs on the pier to allow water to properly drain away and help avoid future erosion problems.

But a petition, which has been signed by more than 4,500 said the plans must be stopped and described them as "simply butchery of one of the most historic areas in this country".

Image caption The pilgrim fathers boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth in September 1620 to sail to the "New World"

John Cabello, chairman of the association of Barbican businesses said the plan was "ridiculous" while local shopkeeper Ian Nicholls said it would "rip out the soul of the Barbican".

West Pier is home to the Mayflower Steps, close to the site from where the Pilgrims are believed to have left England aboard the Mayflower, to settle in North America on 6 September 1620.

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