Plymouth City Council has granted planning permission for the £7million redevelopment of the Market Hall in Devonport, which will see the derelict Grade II listed building transformed into a cutting-edge space for digital skills, research, learning and entertainment.

The Market Hall development is being led by RIO – the Real Ideas Organisation – in partnership with Plymouth City Council, i-DAT at Plymouth University, City College Plymouth, Devonport High School for Boys and some of the brightest young tech companies in the region.

Working with Le Page Architects, RIO’s scheme for the Market Hall will create a new space for digital in the region, adding an additional 820sqm to the current shell of the building to accommodate flexible work space, events and exhibition space, a café, bar and restaurant. Housed in the new extension will be an impressive 15m immersive dome theatre which will offer a large scale shared virtual reality environment – the first of its kind in Europe.

Ed Whitelaw, Market Hall project lead at RIO said: “We’re delighted to have received permission for what is a very exciting scheme. Our ambition is to create a world class, cutting edge digital arts, enterprise and learning centre at the Market Hall to support start-ups, entice visitors and attract some of the best digital talent to the city. With planning permission now in place, we look forward to getting moving on the next phase of the development and hopefully starting on site in early 2018.

“There were some concerns raised by local residents during the planning process. We are already communicating with these residents. We take their concerns seriously and are committed to working with them and maintaining communication to ensure their concerns are heard and that we do everything we can to be good neighbours, both during the build phase and once the building is up and running.”

Council leader Ian Bowyer said: “This is an incredibly exciting project which has the potential to help our young people turn their enthusiasm into enterprise and learning. The digital industry is worth in the region of £53 billion globally and as a city committed to growth and great jobs, this is exactly the sort of project we want to see in Plymouth.

“It’s a unique project in a unique building within an incredible community that is also enjoying a new lease of life thanks to a large-scale regeneration project.  I can’t wait to see this work get underway.”