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Old Mill Court wins top prize at Northern Ireland planning awards

A County Tyrone housing project occupying the site of a disused builders’ yard has been named as this year’s winner of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Northern Ireland Award for Planning Excellence.

Old Mill Court in Sion Mills, submitted by Rural Housing Association, features 14 new social dwellings which reflect careful consideration of local character while also meeting the needs of rural residents.

Above: RTPI NI Award for Planning Excellence winner Old Mill Court, Sion Mills

Director of RTPI Northern Ireland Roisin Willmott FRTPI announced the award this morning during a session of Northern Ireland Planner Live 2020, a week-long series of online events looking at the role of planners in a post-pandemic world.

Roisin said: “Old Mill Court is a worthy winner of the RTPI NI Award for Planning Excellence 2020, having regard to local social and economic culture and the landscapes and environments that have shaped distinct places.

“Sion Mills is a designated conservation area and a village rich in architectural heritage. The judges were particularly impressed that Old Mill Court’s design, by GM Design Associates, was part of a wider regeneration masterplan which took this heritage into account.

Above: Judges noted the use of red brick in the houses of Old Mill Court

“Design cues for the new houses, including the use of red brick, white render, hardwood doors, grey windows and slim profile fibre cement slates, were taken from a cottage that used to occupy part of the site. There is even a nod to adjacent agricultural buildings through fibre cement corrugated profile sheeting.”

Also shortlisted by the judges was a ‘zero waste’ circular economy project for the Derry/Strabane district, submitted by Zero Waste North West.

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