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Going for green - planning delivering real solutions

20 February 2009

The best examples of sustainable planning were honoured yesterday at an awards ceremony in Stormont.

The RTPI/RSPB were joined by Environment Minister Sammy Wilson MP MLA in saluting the best in sustainable design and development.

The 2009 award winners were the Orchard Acre Barn in Fermanagh, The Playhouse in Derry and Woodbrook, Brokerstown Village in Lisburn.

Martin Willey, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: \"The awards clearly demonstrate that Northern Ireland's hardworking planners are committed to sustainable development. As an Institute we are pleased to recognise the efforts and achievements of projects which are delivering real solutions to the local economy, environment and community. The standards were extremely high and each winner displayed a high degree of ingenuity and vision to take home an award.\"

The winners were selected from over 20 entries. Successful applicants were then shortlisted in each of the three categories: Rural Areas and Natural Environment, Sustainable Communities and Regeneration, and Urban Areas and Built Development. Visits were carried out to each of the shortlisted sites and they were all judged against stringent criteria.

Aidan Lonergan, RSPB's NI Director, said the awards came about to highlight good practice in the way we approach planning and development here.

"The RTPI and RSPB both want to promote awareness and implementation of sustainable planning. The awards are a very practical way of not only recognising some of our most innovative developments, but also to highlight good practice, and show what can be done with the right approach. This is only the second year of the awards and they are going from strength to strength."

The awards were sponsored by the Planning Service, The Department of Social Development and Action Renewables. Additional events costs were covered by support from the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Carvill Group.

A summary of the details of the winners are as follows:

1. Orchard Acre – Fermanagh: Rural Areas and Natural Environment
The Orchard Acre Barn replaced dilapidated outhouses on small farm in Fermanagh near Irvinestown. It incorporates solar panels and high levels of insulation and makes use of recycled stone, timber, and zinc from the old buildings. All materials, skills and services were sourced locally. Cement, sand, gravel and timber came from within a 20-mile radius, contractors were all local and, where possible, building elements were fabricated locally.

2. Woodbrook, Brokerstown Village, Lisburn: Urban Areas and Built Development
Brokerstown Village is hailed as Northern Ireland's first Eco Village. The central biomass boiler plant provides heating and hot water for all the units. The CO2 produced by the boiler, is offset by the CO2 taken in by the locally grown willow. The houses and apartments have 40% thicker insulation, air tightness is improved and windows are fitted with high-performance argon gas. Homes are also designed to conserve water, and water retention and permeable hard surfaces are provided to prevent surges of water during flash-floods.

3. The Playhouse, Derry: Sustainable Communities and Regeneration
This project was a refurbishment of Derry's Playhouse Theatre. It preserved and re-used as much of the original material as possible. Timber was salvaged from the original stairwells to be used in the new stairwells of the buildings extension. Traditional processes, such as lime rendering and traditional roof slating that mixed new and salvaged slates, were used. The refurbished building also maximises the use of natural light and ventilation, and has provided for the future installation of solar water heating.