The groundbreaking city-centre regeneration project has been awarded the Silver Jubilee Cup, the UK's top planning prize, in a ceremony celebrating the best planning projects across the UK and Ireland.
Bob Neill MP, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party presented the cup to BDP, Victoria Square's master-planners at the RTPI 2009 Planning Awards at the London Hilton, Park Lane on Thursday 4th February.
At the ceremony, awards were also given for outstanding projects and developments in categories such as town centre regeneration, climate change and heritage - details of all the winning projects are available to view at http://www.rtpi.org.uk/item/420/23/5/3
Doug Pilkington, Architect Director, BDP Belfast said:
'It's fantastic that we've been recognised by the planning world for our work on Victoria Square, which has expanded the city towards the riverside in a way that is truly integrated. Working with the Northern Ireland Planning Service has been a really positive and collaborative experience, and Victoria Square is a great example of private investment which has brought thousands of jobs to Belfast. But what is most important is that people in Belfast have really taken it to their hearts and that is what we are most proud of.\"
Kay Powell, Chair of the Judging Panel for the RTPI 2009 Planning Awards said:
\"The Victoria Square Regeneration Project is a stunning achievement which has real potential to unite communities in Belfast. Clever planning has ensured that Victoria Square is far from being a straightforward retail-led development; it has become part of the city rather than just a mall, with every facet of the footprint of the development connecting directly onto the surrounding city streets, bringing life and vitality well into the evening and beyond.
It has created a new landmark in Belfast city centre that is totally inclusive and accessible to all members of the public. This fantastic regeneration scheme has contributed enormously to the environment of the city centre by attracting tourists and bringing people back into the city centre to live as well as for entertainment. Victoria Square is a visionary undertaking that is a catalyst for other improvements and future developments in the surrounding area which is why we have awarded it the 2009 Jubilee Cup.\"
Mary McIntyre, Divisional Planning Manager for Londonderry Division and Chair of RTPI Northern Ireland said:
'This is a wonderful day for the Planning Service and the planning profession in Northern Ireland. The success of the Planning Service scheme for streamlined council consultation piloted with Derry City Council and now operating in all 26 councils in Northern Ireland means that one in three decisions is issued in an average of 32 working days. This has provided excellent customer service and sets the scene for the wider planning reform agenda.
As Chair of the Northern Ireland branch of the RTPI I would also like to congratulate colleagues in BDP and the Department for Social Development for winning the Silver Jubilee Cup for Victoria Square and delivering such a successful regeneration project in the heart of Belfast.'
A total of 94 entries were received this year covering all categories, and every one the 32 finalists was visited and assessed by the Award's judging panel, consisting of Chair of the Judges Kay Powell, (Secretary of the National Planning Forum) and, Gareth Pryce, (Vice President of the Planning Summer School) and Professor Chris Couch of Liverpool John Moores University.
The full list of shortlisted entries can be found at http://www.rtpi.org.uk/item/420/23/5/3