The transformation of the former Scottish & Newcastle brewery site into a cutting-edge university department has won this year’s Royal Town PIanning Institute North East Award for Planning Excellence.
The awards celebrate outstanding projects that demonstrate the power of planning in transforming the communities where we live.
Led by a partnership between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University, the Urban Sciences Building (USB) is a flagship building dedicated to interdisciplinary sustainability research and is home to the University’s School of Computing.
Situated at the site of a former colliery and later the Scottish & Newcastle Brewery, the visually stunning building is transforming the post-industrial area into a thriving quarter for digitally enabled research, business and innovation.
The building and surrounding area are future-proofed with a Sustainable Drainage System which mitigates against floods. This complex aspect of the project was delivered through extensive partnership working, coordinated by the Planning Officer at the Council.
Over 400 university students and staff were engaged in its development alongside local residents and businesses.
Chair of RTPI North East, Ian Cansfield said:
“The Urban Science Building project demonstrates partnership working at its best. Led by Newcastle Council’s planning officer, a multi-disciplinary team provided joined up responses to urban and landscape design, flood mitigation, and transport, to ensure quality design and place-making.
“It has brought about an exciting facility like no other in the country which sits at the heart of the digital revolution. The integrated labs are at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary research in urban design and technologies.”
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for employment, Cllr Ged Bell, said:
“While the wider Helix site continues to develop, the remarkable Urban Sciences Building has been open for two years now and has set the benchmark for innovation in sustainability.
“This unique building provides students at Newcastle University with a platform to carry out revolutionary research which could shape future generations.
“The site demonstrates the forward-thinking partnership between ourselves, the university and Legal and General, bringing major investment and job opportunities to Newcastle.”
Iain Garfield, Acting Director of Estates, Newcastle University, said: “We have been working closely with Newcastle City Council Planning Department over a number of years and have a joint understanding of the importance of ensuring that estate developments enhance the cityscape and provide excellent working environments that we can all be proud.
“Sustainability is at the heart of our development strategy and working with the planners on issues such as flood water management is a key part of our successes. I am proud that this close working relationship and in particular our work on the Urban Sciences Building has been recognised by the RTPI Planning Excellence Award.”
The judges commended regeneration initiative Trilogy I in Gateshead which is designed to revive communities and kick start economic activity, whilst improving the quality and choice of mixed tenure homes in the borough.
The long term involvement of planners in the delivery of the scheme, including the region’s Planning Aid team, was effective, said the judges.
An Area Action Plan for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park near Sunderland was also commended for its importance to the regional and national economy. Designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, the plan will facilitate the delivery of 392,000sqm of floorspace over 150 hectares for the advanced manufacturing and automotive sectors, creating approximately 7,850 jobs.