The Wales Planning Award 2013 was announced at the RTPI Cymru Annual Dinner on 22nd November 2013.
The 2013 Award Panel were impressed with the range and quality of submissions received and the geographical spread. The purpose of the Wales Planning Award is to recognise, applaud and publicise examples of good planning practice in Wales. Entries can be physical projects, strategies, processes etc and they can be large or small. The following criteria are taken into account in the deliberation by the Panel:
- Physical environment
- Climate change
- Sustainable development
- Planner's role
The judges paid particular attention to the role of the planner in bringing the various schemes to fruition. It is notable that the schemes coming to the forefront of those under deliberation scored highly in respect of mitigation against the threat of climate change, how they addressed all aspects of sustainable development, as well as key issues overcome in implementation.
Maes yr Onn Farm Off Grid Living (Caerphilly County Borough Council)
In terms of cost and size, this year's Planning Award is given to a small scale scheme which is already being hailed as an exemplar of sustainable building excellence. It is a partnership project providing an innovative 'off grid' solution to living a greener lifestyle based on the concept of a traditional Welsh longhouse incorporating a range of green technologies. The winning scheme is Maes Yr Onn Farmhouse, which has been helped to fruition by Caerphilly County Borough Council, Building Research Establishment, SSE and by the drive and enthusiasm of the Davies family who live in the house and farm the surrounding hillside pastures of Manmoel, where their award winning mountain sheep graze.
Highly Commended Schemes
Two North Wales schemes in which sustainable development plays an important part are Bodnant Welsh Food Centre and Plas Hydro.
Highly Commended: Bodnant Welsh Food Centre (Capita Symonds)
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is the remarkable creation of a bustling visitor destination in the Conwy Valley, which is a centre of excellence for the processing and retailing of predominantly Welsh food. It is located within a sensitively converted group of old farm buildings restored to a 'very good' BREEAM rating. The Centre also includes a cookery school, residential accommodation, tea room and restaurant. In the two years since it opened it has attracted over 200,000 visitors and created 60 full time equivalent jobs.
Highly Commended: Plas Hydro (Snowdonia National Park Authority)
Plas Hydro consists of a 28Kw hydroelectric power scheme comprising water abstraction, a pipeline through a designated SSSI and the construction of a turbine house. It is unusual in that much of the development is or will be hidden from view. It provides some 80% of the energy requirements for the historic Plas Tan y Bwlch, the Grade II* listed building complex which houses the National Park Environmental Studies Centre.
The Hydro scheme has also enabled an improved process for dealing with subsequent hydro electric schemes in the National Park.
The role of town centres has been under the microscope in recent years particularly as the economic recession has led to many businesses closing and an increase in vacant retail floorspace. Two town centre schemes which have resulted in the significant enhancement of the physical environment are worthy of note in the entries for this year.
Commended: Blaenau Ffestiniog Physical Regeneration Project (Cyngor Gwynedd Council)
The judges felt that was an exemplar community led scheme, which has turned around a town centre previously in a spiral of decline. The project was also acknowledged in the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence.
Commended: Denbigh Townscape Initiative Phase II (Denbighshire County Council)
This is an exemplary conservation led regeneration programme utilising a variety of funding sources and a holistic approach to the process of improvement including development management, enforcement, housing and neighbourhood renewal.
The Wales Planning Award 2013 was sponsored by Arup.