The £30 million revival of Ebbw Valley Railway passenger services led by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has won the Supreme Award at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Cymru's 2008 Wales Planning Awards. The service, open since February 2008, stole the win for its major impact in the local community and was considered by the judges to be one of the most significant infrastructure projects carried out in the South Wales valleys in recent years.
Roisin Willmott, National Director of RTPI Cymru said:
\"The judges were unanimous in granting the Supreme Award to the Ebbw Valley Railway project, the first time that a local council has taken the client role in creating a new passenger railway in the UK. It is a major success story for the local community which looks set to continue its amazing achievements to date. These include a ninety-five per cent reliability record, its contribution to other regeneration schemes in the area including the renewal of derelict station areas and considerations in place to extend the Park'n'Ride site in Ebbw Vale.\"
The annual awards, which recognise and applaud examples of good planning practice in Wales, received a record number of entries submitted this year. Overall the award judges \"felt the range of projects submitted this year demonstrated the broad range of skills that the planning profession encompasses – transportation planning, master planning, city centre planning and community planning – and all entries were carefully assessed first hand by the entire panel.\"
The Ebbw Valley Railway project was supported by Caerphilly County Borough Council and Newport City Council with financial support from the Welsh Assembly Government, including Objective 1 funding. The overall project involved upgrading 18 miles of train track, installing a three mile passing loop, renewing signalling, upgrading structures, providing real-time passenger information and constructing six new stations to permit an hourly passenger service from Cardiff to Ebbw Vale. Capita Symonds project managed the scheme and also co-ordinated and undertook elements of the outline design. Amey Infrastructure detailed the design and was build contractor.
Three entries were granted Highly Commended awards:
• The Works regeneration project of the 75 hectare derelict steelworks site adjacent to Ebbw Vale town centre;
• Cardiff City Centre Strategy 2007 – 10 and Area Appraisals, an agreed policy which sets out strategic priorities for the ongoing regeneration of the central area of Cardiff and Area Appraisals; and
• The Cardiff Fitzhamon Embankment Public Art Scheme, a project of Cardiff Council's Neighbourhood Renewal Programme.
The awards were announced at the RTPI Cymru Annual Dinner 2008, held Friday 28th November at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.