The Market Hall development in Devonport, Plymouth, received a significant funding boost today as Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £1million investment for the new ‘digital creative space’ in his Autumn Statement. The sum comes as part of the Treasury’s ‘Cultural Investments’ championed by Arts Council England.

The £5million Market Hall scheme is led by RIO – the Real Ideas Organisation – working with Plymouth City Council, to create a new world-class space for digital technology, arts, research and education. The Market Hall will feature space for learning, skills development, expo and events, research and experimentation as well as a 15m immersive dome theatre – the first of its kind in Europe.

Lindsey Hall, Chief Executive of RIO said: “We are thrilled that the Treasury has seen the potential of our ambitious Market Hall development and backed it with this significant investment.

“This scheme will put Plymouth and the south west on the world map in terms of digital skills, technology and expertise. We’d like to thank Plymouth City Council for its support, Arts Council England for championing the Market Hall to the Treasury and of course the Chancellor for including us in his investment plans.

“Now we have the majority of funding in place we look forward to progressing to the next stage of the project and breaking ground in 2017.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “This is very welcome news and we’re delighted for RIO and their partners, including Plymouth City Council. “The Market Hall can play a key part in the future of Devonport in a real and vivid way, with local people at the heart of the transformation. The cutting edge immersive and virtual reality technologies will ensure that Devonport develops specialisms that build the local economy, creating jobs, compelling learning offers and a unique visitor attraction, both for local people and visitors to the city.

“These are obviously challenging times for undertaking capital projects, but the cultural and creative sector is one of the fastest growing in the economy, actively creating economic growth and jobs, and this is as a result of sustained investment.

“The partnership with Plymouth City Council is very important to us and they have been steadfast in their support for a revitalised cultural offer in the city. We work closely with Local Authorities throughout the country and this is vital to the strength of arts and culture in England’s communities. By combining our efforts we can, and do, make a greater contribution to communities than if we worked alone.”

Plymouth City Council Leader Ian Bowyer said: “This is another important step forward in the economic development of not just Devonport but the whole of Plymouth. On a global scale the digital industry is worth billions and I think it’s extremely exciting that Plymouth will have a share in that. Not only are we going to benefit from increased investment in the city this project will also help to keep graduates with creative digital skills, in the city. We are extremely proud of our involvement in this project and I’m delighted that the Chancellor has recognised its importance.”