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Seeking the Greenist Building in Northern Ireland

26 October 2010

What do a 200-year old theatre, a contemporary housing development and a barn redevelopment in Fermanagh have in common? They are all winners of the 2009 RTPI-RSPB Sustainable Planning Awards. The awards are given to built development projects which demonstrate best planning practice by taking into account the environment and community, as well as wildlife.

A call for nominations of a new round of awards went out today (25 October 2010). The launch of the 2011 awards was held at the Playhouse in Derry, the winner in the Sustainable Communities and Regeneration Award in 2009.

Speaking at the launch, Ann Skippers, President of the RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute), said, \"What I find particularly exciting about planning is the range of challenges practitioners face, and the genuinely unique solutions that result from best practice. That's never more true when looking at sustainable development, something that the RTPI and its members are absolutely committed to.

\"Whether in rural or urban areas, we as practitioners have to bring together the private and public sectors and work hand in hand with the local community to create a space that works well – and which addresses often considerable technical and financial challenges.

\"'Sustainable development' can be a somewhat nebulous and opaque term, which is why I am thrilled about the 2011 awards as the entries clearly demonstrate the value that well thought out and well designed projects can bring to an area.\"

Dr James Robinson, Director RSPB NI, also added, \"Over the millennia, wildlife has adapted to become an important part of our lives. For instance our populations of swifts are now almost entirely dependent on bird-friendly architecture. By making very minor adjustments to building design and plans, we could easily accommodate them – for very little cost – to great effect.

\"This is a message we need to hear in these cost-cutting times – that there are proactive ways for industry, government and NGOs to work together to find innovative solutions that meet everyone's needs.\"

There are four categories:

  • Sustainable Communities and Regeneration: This award is for schemes involving regeneration and strong community participation. It is sponsored by the Department of Social Development.
  • Rural Areas and the Natural Environment: This reward planning in rural areas where there is benefit for the protection and enhancement of the natural environment.
  • Urban Development and the Built Environment, for projects incorporating sustainable solutions to issues arising in urban areas, such as transport, design and space.
  • The Judges' Choice, to be awarded to a project that deserves special recognition and awarded at the discretion of the judges.

Niall McCutcheon, Director of the Playhouse, said, \"The ethos behind the award reinforces redevelopment, rejuvenation as well as the importance of community engagement. It is everything the Playhouse stands for. It is also the key to the creating a vibrant, confident and resilient society – one which befits a city like Derry, which has been chosen to be the next UK City of Culture.\"

The closing date for entries is 8 December 2010, 5.30 pm. For application forms, visit the RSPB website at www.rspb.org.uk/nireland/planningawards, or contact the RSPB on 028 9049 1547.