Nudge 0 – Union Corner

Over 2 years we renovated and brought back into use an empty shop on Union Street. This inspired Nudge Community Builders and started us on this journey. As Chair and Vice Chair of Stonehouse Action we grew in confidence and belief that what we are doing in our local area genuinely nudges the area where we live and makes an impact. 

Every booking for Union Corner helps to improve the space and keep it open. If you have an idea and would like to use the space please check the diary and get in touch.

Led by volunteers from Stonehouse Action, working with Robert Bedner Research+Design, Flux Metal, Stonehouse Timebank and N J Frood we transformed the building.  


The space is like a ‘Community house-share’ where local people can make connections, friends, garden, try out business ideas and try out something new.  

We opened the space for activities after our 2016 Street Party at the end of September. Union Corner is a temporary use to kick-start community activity, business idea and bring a derelict shop back into use.  We’ve had over 2000 visitors in 6 months and hosted over 58 different activities.  


At the end of 2 years (2018) we will be looking for a tenant to succeed our lease so the shop remains open contributing to Union Street.  

Why we did it

Stonehouse Action had hosted 5 street parties at the point of planning Union Corner. With  the street closed local people could talk about and notice the street; we received the following feedback;

  • it was sad to see Union Street degenerate; people had stories of when Union Street was in it’s ‘hey-day’.
  • 15 empty buildings along Union Street from the Octagon up to Aldi reflected negatively on the neighbourhood.
  • People felt unsafe and experienced anti-social behaviour on the street at night. While renovating Union Corner we would see drug deals happening openly on the street.
  • Union Street has licensed premises open for business, it is now the only street in Plymouth where new licences will be granted. People felt there was a lack of opportunities on the street for local people

Now it is open we have noticed

  • People have a positive connection to the space “it feels like a great big hug”, “it makes me smile when I walk through the door”, “this is different – I really wasn’t expecting this!”.
  • People have formed new connections with organisations and each other.
  • Organisations are using and supporting the space because they like our values; Timebank SW, POP, PCH, DCH, WEA, On-course, Unison, Vital Sparks, Scouts – “we definatelly benefited from your momentum – it was absolutely right for us to start off our groups in Union Corner, it might not have worked so well elsewhere” Scout leader.
  • New activities outside of Union Corner are being planned which will improve the environment – e.g. Manor Street Market
  • New businesses are being attracted to Union Street and Manor Street – 3 new businesses have opened on Union Street, The Escape Rooms has opened in Manor Street and Slinkies (adult shop) has closed down.  
  • Union Corner is building trust and confidence for local people “it’s great to see the lights on and lots of activities happening in the space”.  
  • There are new activities for the community to enjoy; Plymouth College of Art Printing workshops; 100 Homes (Stonehouse Timebank); Sir Francis Chichester boat making workshops; Joyce’s Quilt; Fast and Funny; Naturally Vegans; Scouts, Cubs and Beavers.   
  • It has increased engagement and enabled people to try out something new – in 6 months we have had over 2000 visits to Union Corner.  Members are hosting their own activities


“I look forward to Friday all week – Tattoo Design”  

“I’ve spent all my  life disappointed I can’t draw and now I can!”  

“Before starting I didn’t like sewing but now I’m signing up for a Dress making course”

“It’s great to be able to come along and speak to people about my mental health knowing they understand and haven’t just learnt about my condition from a text book”

“It’s such a treat to learn how to do lino printing”

“You’d pay £180 for a course like this at Dartington – Greenwood Crafts”

Regular activities

  • Tea, Toast and Treats
  • Timebanking Wednesday
  • 100 Homes
  • Healing
  • Men’s mind group
  • Doc Price runs Tattoo Design
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Tai Chi
  • Cubs
  • Beavers
  • Being Together in Conversation
  • Vegan Elevenses
  • Singing Drum
  • Plymouth Anxiety and Depression Support


One-off activities

  • Fast and Funny (x 14 workshops)
  • PCA Printing workshops (x2)
  • Joyce’s Quilt (x 6)
  • PATH Quiz night
  • Music from Dub Selector Narcotic
  • Woman kinder (x 3)
  • Film Night (x 2)
  • Rock School (x 3)
  • Greenwood crafts (x 3)
  • Felt making (x 3)
  • Textiles (x 3)
  • Positive Steps to well-being (x 3)
  • Mask Making (x 3)
  • Christmas Fair
  • Book Fair
  • Free New Years Eve Party
  • Being Together in Play (x 6)
  • Black Books
  • Brest Twinning Creative Writers Group
  • Romanian Awareness Day

We made this happen with:

  • Crowdfunder Plymouth during a 28 day ‘all or nothing’ campaign, we had 135 people, businesses and local organisations in our crowd contributing £12,200 including an auction hosted by the Artillery Arms.  This money paid for the electrics, re-decorating and insulating inside, replacing architect designed shopfront and garden fence.  
  • Community First funding paid for the infrastructure in the garden – we got rid of 3 skips worth of waste material from the garden.
  • Vital sparks funding paid the doors into the garden
  • We had 30 submariners graduating from Raleigh provide 2 days of labour to sort out the garden
  • Awards for All paid for graphics on the fence and re-rendering of the large side face of 96 Union Street, enabling us to remove unsightly black plastic sheeting and wooden trusses that dominated this aspect

Health Trust Lottery has enabled us to open the space and provide 8 days free space to local people and host a variety of workshops.  


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