Sustainable Planning Award 2008

Three NI companies shortlisted in recognition of planning and biodiversity

The Royal Town Planning Institute and RSPB NI have announced the three finalists in a joint planning award to promote sustainable planning and biodiversity protection in Northern Ireland.

'The range of applications was so wide it was hard to compare the very different schemes,' said RTPI judge Gavan Rafferty. 'The award seeks to recognise the efforts and achievements of truly sustainable development whether in rural or urban areas, large or small in scale, new development or regeneration or from the public, private or community sectors.

'However, the three finalists stood out and the decision was unanimous. The judges will visit all three applications before finally deciding the winner.'

Hill House, Co Down
Hill House, designed by White Ink Architects, is a private dwelling in Co Down. The buildings incorporate old stone salvaged from original dwellings and the design reflects traditional forms.

The house has photovoltaic cells and solar water heating, with water use kept to a minimum. Septic tank effluent is treated in a reed bed and landscaping includes native trees.

The Orchard Building, Stranmillis
The Orchard Building at Stranmillis University College was submitted by Scott Wilson and Knox & Clayton Architects. The design makes the most of natural light, and where lighting is required, it is controlled by movement detectors.

A biomass boiler has been used to heat the building, and sustainable urban drainage scheme helps reduce water use and pollution. The judges were particularly impressed by the intention of Stranmillis College and the Department of Education to use the building as a flagship project and educational tool for local schools.

Connswater Greenway Project, east Belfast
The Connswater Greenway project is on a completely different scale and impressed the judges by its innovative approach to urban regeneration in east Belfast.

The green corridor along the river Connswater and the Knock and Loop rivers encourages cycling and and helps to connect communities in the area. Wildlife enjoy the benefits too, with the provision of planting and improvement to the riverbanks and water quality.

'The three finalists demonstrate the breadth of sustainable development, from a single house to a multi-million pound urban regeneration project,' said the RSPB's Claire Ferry. 

'Successful applicants had obviously thought carefully about the environmental and social impacts of their developments, from minimising water and energy use, tree-planting and reed beds, to involving the local community. These are exactly the principles we would like to see enshrined in planning policy in NI.'

The three finalists showcase their entries at a joint RTPI/RSPB sustainable development Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event in February 2008.

The RSPB is the UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and wildlife. The largest conservation charity in Europe, it has over one million members, with almost 11,000 in  NI.