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President sees Best of North East Planning

08 October 2012


Pictured: Northumberlandia, winner of the 2012 Chair's Award, for the best example of Planning in a Rural Area, sponsored by George F. White

President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Colin Haylock, toured the North East of England on 4-5 October. Highlights of his tour included visits to the winning projects in the 2012 RTPI North East Regional Awards for Planning Achievement and the formal presentation of the awards at the RTPI NE Annual Dinner, which was this year held at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne.

For the first time for many years the RTPI's national President didn't have far to travel to make his regional visit to the North East of England - Colin Haylock lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, and previously worked both for Newcastle City Council and for Ryder Architecture, before establishing his own company, Haylock Planning and Design.

During his crowded tour Colin also met with planning students at Newcastle University, Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, RTPI members working in County Durham and South Tyneside, and the planning teams involved in the award-winning projects.

Reflecting on his two day tour, Colin Haylock commented: "As President of the Royal Town Planning Institute I have the privilege of meeting planners across the UK and sharing their pride in the great places they have helped to shape."

"This week was particularly pleasurable - touring the region that has been my home and work base for nearly 40 years, seeing the outcome of projects that I knew in their early stages, meeting many planners and project partners that I had respected for years, and being able to spend time with the enthusiastic planning students who will carry this work into the future."

"The awards we presented on Friday night celebrate just a small part of the great planning work going on in the North East, despite the very tough economic climate."

Colin was accompanied on his tour by the current Chair of RTPI NE, Joe Ridgeon.

RTPI NE Regional Awards 2012

The RTPI North East regional awards scheme takes place annually in order to recognize, celebrate and publicise good planning practice in the North East of England.

This year's winners, and many of the other entries, demonstrate the value of vision to good planning practice: the added value provided by high aspirations, which turn good projects into outstanding projects; the creativity which inspires truly memorable schemes.

Regional Award Winners 2012

  • The Toffee Factory, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne (entered by xsite architecture)

The Toffee Factory was a fire-damaged and vandalised building close to the point at which Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley reaches the Quayside. It is a tremendous achievement by Newcastle City Council, their architects, and partners that the complex now forms a flagship project housing a successful cluster of creative businesses and contributing much to the dramatic multi-level townscape of the area. The project also has excellent environmental credentials, makes good use of colour contrasted with the old brickwork, and has a striking lighting scheme.

  • Developer Guidance Notes, Process and Procedure, Newcastle upon Tyne (entered by Newcastle City Council (Urban Design Team))

Newcastle City Council has a number of sites for the development of private and social housing. In order to assist potential development partners, and raise the quality of new housing developments in the city, the Urban Design Team works with colleagues from various other parts of the Council to prepare well-illustrated, but concise, Developer Guidance Notes.

The awards scheme judges benefitted greatly from a thorough audit of the success of the process in action over the period 2009-11, carried out by the Council, but including highly positive feedback from some of the architects and developers involved, such as "certainly speeds up the process….." and "All good really. Very useful documents indeed. We've even suggested to other local planning departments that they should adopt a similar approach."

Winner of the 2012 Chair's Award, for the best example of Planning in a Rural Area, sponsored by George F. White

  • Northumberlandia, near Cramlington, Northumberland (entered by the Banks Group)

Northumberlandia is an iconic landmark feature designed by the artist Charles Jencks, constructed as part of opencast coal mining operations, and now forming the centrepiece of a 14.5 hectare public park in the urban fringe of South East Northumberland. Partners in the project include the Blagdon Estate (on whose land the project is situated) and the Land Trust, who will be working with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Azure Charitable Enterprise in taking on the management and maintenance of the site in future.

The form of the feature (a human female, said to be the largest human landform sculpture in the world) has ensured that the project already has a high public profile (in more senses than one). It is also notable that the project has been completed well before mining has ended on the adjacent Shotton Surface Mine (the "restoration first" principle), and that it has been wholly funded by the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate.


  • The Chapter House, All Saint's Church, Cleadon, South Tyneside (entered by B3 Architecture)

A sensitive addition to a Grade 2 listed Victorian village church on a restricted site in a Conservation Area, replacing a much less sympathetic 1960's vestry with a new meeting room, vestry, lobby and disabled persons WC. This exemplary small scheme results from close collaboration between the architects, the design team, the church authorities and congregation, the local authority planning officer and the Tyne and Wear Historic Buildings Officer. The design is contemporary, but respectful of its context.

  • Bolam Coyne Refurbishment, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne (entered by Newcastle City Council (Urban Design Team))

The project is one of the schemes benefitting from the Council's Developer Guidance Notes (see above). Bolam Coyne is a particularly striking element of Ralph Erskine's famous Grade 11* Listed, 1960's Byker Estate, but its original mix of housing units had led to it becoming vacant and derelict. The refurbishment is respectful of the historic design, but (in line with the relevant Developer Guidance Note) ingeniously alters the housing mix and access arrangements to provide a secure courtyard to be enjoyed by residents, new entrances, and modern environmentally sustainable technologies.