A North East council has become the only authority outside of London to be shortlisted for a national planning award.
The council is up against Croydon Council and the London Borough of Southwark in the awards – the first event to bring together the very best of the UK property sector in the public and private sectors.
Sunderland has already scooped a national award from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for Excellence in Planning and Design for the Public Realm for its regeneration work at Marine Walk in Roker and Seaburn Promenade.
Both schemes were developed with input from local people to give a sense of community ownership to the regeneration. They include extensive areas of hard and soft landscaping, bespoke street furniture, new events spaces, viewing areas and feature lighting.
Praised as ‘transformational projects’ by the RTPI judges, the Sunderland schemes were applauded for bringing ‘wide physical, environmental, social and economic benefit to the city of Sunderland and its residents’. They beat initiatives including the London 2012 Olympics athletes’ village to take the RTPI title.
Sunderland’s seafront regeneration started in 2009 with a mission to give local people a sense of pride in where they live at its heart. The scheme has also developed the area to attract more tourists to visit the seafront and boost employment in Roker and Seaburn through private sector investment into the areas.
In its analysis of the project, MIPIM UK said: “With at least £4m external funding secured by Sunderland Council’s multidisciplinary project team to deliver essential infrastructure improvements, the project incorporates a range of creative design solutions, which both address longstanding site issues and emphasise the area’s sense of place.
“The success of the council’s approach is already being borne out, with much improved visitor numbers, new events and increased private sector investment and activity.”
The MIPIM UK Awards will be presented at Olympia in London on October 16 during a three-day conference highlighting the very best of the UK’s property industry.
Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The regeneration of Sunderland’s seafront is a very special project for the city, thanks to the input and support we have received from local people.
“To be shortlisted against two London local authorities for the Planning Authority of the Year Award at the inaugural MIPIM event, which will be the UK’s largest ever property conference, is fantastic recognition of what we are doing.
“Win or lose on October 16, we can be proud of the regeneration work taking place on our seafront, which is creating an environment that local people can be proud of for many years to come.”