More projects were submitted in 2015 year than previous years, and of these the judges considered that nine were potentially worthy of recognition and should therefore be shortlisted as Finalists for this year's Wales Planning Awards. The submitted projects included physical schemes, survey and analysis, design guidance and Supplementary Planning Guidance. The Finalists were announced in the Autumn edition of Cynllunio. The judging panel comprised of Roger Tanner, Mike Cuddy and Jan Tyrer.
The Wales Planning Award was announced at the RTPI Cymru Annual Dinner in November 2015 in Cardiff. Brief details are given below on each of the projects recognised in the 2015 Awards. Fuller details of each scheme can be found in the Winter edition of Cynllunio.
Winner - Mixed Use Regeneration of Meritor factory site, Cwmbran, submitted by: Torfaen County Borough Council
Over the last few years the number of jobs at the Meritor Factory, which has been in operation since the 1930s, has been decreasing. The proposal will result in the regeneration of a contaminated brownfield site for a mixed use employment led scheme. The project has a number of elements, including a foodstore, designed to function as an edge of centre store whilst providing physical and visual integration with Cwmbran Town Centre and a remediated area with outline consent for the development of offices, hotel with ancillary pub/restaurant, car parking and public realm.
At the core of this project was the creative use of s106 incorporating a Step in Agreement and a Bond to secure regeneration benefits over a wider area. The scheme involves the internal and external improvement of an existing factory and investment in its production and research capacity and promotes behavioural change by providing substantially better links to the town centre and railway station.
Highly Commended - Barry Pumphouse, submitted by: WYG, The Vale of Glamorgan Council and DS Properties
The Pump House is a Grade II Listed Building built in the 1880s and previously formed part of Barry's historic dock complex providing hydraulic power to operate coal drops, lock gates, swing bridges and other equipment around the docks. Listed in 1992, it was disused for many years but remains an important local landmark with its imposing 42 meter high chimney, and is one of the few hydraulic Pump House buildings which remain in Wales. The Pump House, situated in the heart of the Innovation Quarter, a 19 acre mixed use development site which comprises of a mix of learning, employment, tourism and leisure, to complement and enhance the wider Waterfront. The scheme secured planning permission and listed building consent in October 2014 for the conversion of the Pump House to provide a mix of uses.
Highly Commended - Holyhead Townscape Transformation, submitted by: Isle of Anglesey County Council
Holyhead's townscape is being positively transformed through a 'Townscape Heritage Initiative' (THI), which has focussed on delivering a heritage-led approach, working with the grain of the historic town and providing a light touch approach to town centre regeneration, positively addressing perceptions and community aspirations for the future of the town. Holyhead is repositioning itself as a gateway to Holy Island, Anglesey's Heritage Coast and AONB, through utilising the heritage as key tourism offer but also as a location for business and housing growth.
The core of this project is a Townscape Heritage Initiative but it is much more than that and is clearly a successful example of small town centre regeneration led by planners with important economic and social as well as environmental benefits.
Commended - Coppet Hall, submitted by: Acanthus Holden
Coppet Hall is located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in a very sensitive coastal location. Prior to its re-development the site consisted of a large un-surfaced, potholed car park, together with a run-down hotel and poor quality kiosks through which passed the Wales Coast Path. All this overlooked a fantastic pebble and sandy beach separated by a low run of sand dune and sea buckthorn. The new development includes a sensitively designed and stunning contemporary building, sited closer to the coast and designed to enhance the site and respect its context. The environment around the building has been transformed, with new car parking and landscaping and improved access to the beach. The project was opened on time for the summer of 2014.
This is a good example of what well thought through and designed redevelopment can achieve even when it is in conflict with certain planning policies (i.e. policy opposing the removal of accommodation in the form of the hotel demolished in the scheme). We were surprised however to learn that planning consent was not accompanied by a S106 agreement relating to replacement accommodation.
Commended - Plas Penddeuglawdd, submitted by: Denbighshire County Council
37 – 39 Pendyffryn Road is two Grade II listed buildings. One of which is believed to be the oldest building in Rhyl dating from the first half of the 17th Century. Both were listed in a poor condition, with No. 37 in a partially derelict state. Located in a suburban residential street and an eyesore for many years, the buildings were on a Council Corporate 'Eyesore Sites' list, the Council's 'Listed Buildings at Risk' Register and Empty Homes Register.
Six two-bedroom properties on the site were created. Three are in the listed buildings, with three new bungalows meeting lifetime homes standards, and wheelchair friendly dwellings in the grounds. Rhyl is one of the highest areas of housing need in Denbighshire and this crucial development provides much needed, high quality 2 bedroom affordable housing for local people with a local connection. The buildings have been conserved, and enhanced. Rather than being an eyesore they are outstanding vernacular buildings in Rhyl providing well designed and beautiful housing for those with a genuine local need.
The project demonstrates a substantial improvement in the physical environment turning a long standing eyesore into a positive contribution to the streetscene that helps to highlight the history of the area and reinforce local distinctiveness. This has resulted in a productive use of a formerly derelict listed building (the oldest in Rhyl) which meets local needs for affordable and specialist housing and has promoted a sense of civic pride
The judges also chose to give an additional special award to recognise excellence in planning related survey and analysis in the Tree Cover in Urban Wales study, submitted by Natural Resources Wales.
This national study reports on the extent of tree canopy cover for all of Wales' 220 urban areas (The outcome of assessing tree cover from both 2006 and 2009 aerial photography and combining this with National Forest Inventory data).
This project is a World First – in that the tree canopy study encompasses every urban area (220 in Wales) in a country. It is thus also the first comprehensive survey of any kind of the whole of urban Wales, hopefully setting a precedent for a long overdue analysis of other aspects of the country's towns and cities ahead of production of the National Development Framework for Wales.