The RTPI North East panel of judges has shortlisted four excellent and worthy entries across the region that have contributed outstanding planning projects. The Awards celebrate the very best in planning projects, and attracted submissions from the commercial, public and voluntary sectors.
The shortlisted projects include the reclamation and restoration of Seaham's historic dock to modern marina, a community-led approach to regenerate Fish Quay in North Shields, the carefully restored Witham Hall, now providing public access to a cultural and community hub. And finally, the expansion of space to the Wooler Work Hub, including 'office pods', encouraging independent and business integration.
The Award winners will be announced in October during the RTPI Centenary Ball and dinner. The Chair of RTPI North East Region, Stephen Litherland said, "We have been delighted with the quality, strength and depth of the regional award submissions this year in what is the Institute's Centenary Year. The judges considered entries from across the whole of the North East Region and the shortlisted candidates have now been chosen following a rigorous judging process. The process proved incredibly close scoring between projects, which is testament to the high standard of submissions. We now look forward to welcoming the winners to our annual awards Dinner in October which is shaping up to be a really enjoyable event".
The Award winners will be announced at the RTPI North East Centenary Ball and Dinner, held on 10th October 2014. Details of the event can be found on the RTPI website.
Congratulations to the following Rural Connect Hubs that are amongst the four shortlisted projects:
1. The Witham Hall, Barnard Castle. Durham County Council.
The restoration of the listed buildings, built in 1845-6, has been sensitively undertaken. Planning and Conservation Officers have actively participated from project inception through to final completion. Officers have responded positively and in a timely manner to design changes proposed through the Design and Build contract. Officers have also been able to consult with national bodies, such as the Theatres Trust, to ensure that the final appearance is suitable for its historic setting. The buildings are now accessible to all members of the community and once again form the cultural and community heart of Barnard Castle. Working in partnership Barnard Castle Vision, The Witham Trustees and Durham County Council developed a scheme that would benefit the local community, provide a sustainable, self financing organisation.
The outcome is a refurbished and restored Testimonial Hall and Music Hall, now linked by a new two storey link building which incorporated, café, meeting room and toilet facilities. A landscaped area to the rear offers external facilities for functions and a wildlife habitat. The project was partnered with Summers Innman, Jayne Darbyshire and David Kendall Architects and Graham Construction.
2. Wooler Work Hub and office pods. Glendale Gateway Trust.
The Wooler Work Hub is an innovative office incubation space at a community hub facility in rural Northumberland, run by a civil society organisation, Glendale Gateway Trust. It provides office space in both the main community building and in the temporary 'office pods' in the grounds of the main community centre building. The building has been modified to encourage individual businesses to make use of meeting and conference space available in the centre, and to provide social meeting opportunities between businesses. Users of the business space and other small firms in the area participate in a regular forum, Enterprising Glendale, which has led to some new business ideas and also provided further ideas on how to promote business opportunity in our remote rural area. Since opening in May 2013, the Community Centre has accommodated six new and emerging businesses and one charitable trust.
The design of the circulation spaces aims to allow businesses to operate independently and relatively undisturbed by other activities, but at the same time be part of wider community activity. Capital funds provided through DEFRA's North East Rural Growth Networkfund have created facilities which are now self-sustaining as part of the Community Centre. This project was partnered between Northumberland County Council, North East Rural Growth Network, Smith Gore (formerly Sale and Partners).
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