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Sunderland cancer cookery school wins regional planning award

08 October 2019

The conversion of a Grade-II listed lodge in Sunderland into a community cookery school has been declared the overall winner at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North East Regional Awards for Planning Excellence 2019.

The judges said that they were impressed with how Life Kitchen at The Lodge, submitted by Lichfields, successfully addressed ‘many of the complex issues relating to the change of use and the conversion of a listed building’.

Life Kitchen 's Restored Grade II Listed Lodge

Above: The restored Grade-II listed lodge which houses Life Kitchen at The Lodge

They also noted how the development was made possible through fundraising, public support and the work of local businesses, including planning consultants, architects and building firms who donated their time and services.

The award was announced at a ceremony at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Newcastle, attended by more than 230 planning professionals from across the north east of England.

RTPI North East Regional Chair and chair of the judging panel Sam Thistlethwaite said: “We were really pleased with the quality of this year’s entries and we thank all of those who submitted projects.

“Life Kitchen at The Lodge turned a vacant and run-down listed building into a nationally significant project within Mowbray Park in Sunderland - it won high praise from all of the judges that assessed it. The scheme represents the UK’s first permanent base for a building that aims to cater for the needs of cancer patients and their families by providing free cookery classes that are accessible to all. The judges were agreed that the Life Kitchen at The Lodge is an accessible, sustainable space of exceptional quality at the centre of the community.”

Also at the ceremony, the Chair’s Award was presented to Medical Architecture for the Mitford Autism Unit at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth. This 15-person unit provides a specialised service for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders who have extremely complex needs and challenging behaviours.

Friday’s event was one of a series of regional RTPI awards ceremonies around the country recognising outstanding projects that demonstrate the power of planning in transforming communities.

Lichfields will join other overall winners from regions around the country at the RTPI’s prestigious national Awards for Planning Excellence ceremony, to be held in London on 30 April 2020.




Life Kitchen at The Lodge, Sunderland (Lichfields)


Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre (Gateshead Council)


Stephenson Quarter at North East Futures University Technical College (UTC), Newcastle (Lichfields)


Mitford Autism Unit, Northgate Hospital (Medical Architecture)


Newcastle Eagles Arena (klr Planning Ltd)


West Mural Tower, Bishop Auckland (Durham County Council)