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The Royal Town Planning Institute has shortlisted 13 finalists for its 21st 'Annual Awards for Planning Achievement...
The Royal Town Planning Institute has shortlisted 13 finalists for its 21st 'Annual Awards for Planning Achievement'. The finalists have been selected from highly accomplished professional planning work, across the British Isles, not only in physical projects but also in planning processes, policy and plan-making.

Chairman of the judging panel, Mike Flynn, said, 'The shortlisted finalists show planning at its best and the overall standard of entries was extremely high.

'Particularly heartening was the demonstration that the planning profession is working so creatively and positively with other agencies and disciplines, providing the broadest range of entries we have ever seen'.

Two of the finalists are literary submissions.

A book, entitled Derbyshire - Detail and Character, was commissioned by the county council. It describes the character and detail of Derbyshire's towns and villages, in order to win hearts and minds over to the cause of conservation, distinctive traditions and the character of the area. Its foreword is by Jonathan Dimbleby.

The end product was a high quality book for sale to the general public, but also targeted, as an authoritative reference, for civic amenity societies, environmental groups, planners, highways officers and property owners. The first print has sold out quickly, and a reprint is under way.

Four books promoting conservation in the towns and villages of the Moyle - one for each of the districts' four settlements; Ballycastle, Bushmills, Cushendall and Cushendun - are rooted in the local history and character of each place.

The standard of design and production is very high, since the books contain specially commissioned water-colours, historic maps, informative text and architectural illustrations. The books have already achieved an impact beyond expectations, and sold as far afield as the United States. They are proving to be a resource for environmental education, and for influencing inward investment.

Two strategic guides are also shortlisted finalists.

The Belfast Environmental Audit is a study which:

- establishes the value of environmental improvements to the regeneration policy

- gives an overview of the existing state of the physical environment in the area

- provides a strategic framework to guide investment and co-ordinate effort.

Through its methodology and results, the study provides a valuable tool, for all the activities necessary, to enhance the physical environment and contribute to economic and social well-being.

The new Essex Design Guide is very much a joint effort between county and district planners, highway engineers and extensive consultation with other parties.

The guide covers a number of new issues such as sustainability, mixed use, site appraisal, landscape structure, traffic speed reduction, crime prevention and the need for coherency within larger layouts. It also contains scope for greater creativity in house-type designs, and it is hoped that developers and designers will see these opportunities and grasp them.

Two plans for regeneration have been selected as finalists.

A Plan for Jobstown sets out residents' priorities for regenerating the deprived post-war housing of Jobstown, within the new town of Tallaght, west of Dublin. Jobstown comprises seven estates - six local authority and one private - all lacking in recreational facilities, shops and services.

Many inter-related problems are experienced in the area, and a Neighbourhood Planning Group has enabled agencies and residents to determine local plans for training, health provision, and services, with residents deciding on priorities for spending the available funds.

The Planning Framework for the Rebuilding of Manchester City Centre is on a much larger scale. The massive bomb blast in June 1996, which led to this huge renewal programme, was appalling, causing terrible injuries, severe damage to many buildings, and displacing hundreds of businesses.

A competition, launched to find the best creative talent, led to the consultants EDAW being selected. The EDAW Masterplan framework puts forward radical changes for street layouts, contemporary buildings, a new city park, 'pedestrian-friendly' urban spaces and an integrated transport strategy - whilst protecting famous and historic Manchester landmarks.

Fundamental to the success of the massive rebuilding programme, are the robust planning framework, the public and private sector teamwork, the quality of the urban design and the universal sense of urgency.

Two further finalists are design schemes.

The Piggeries Housing Scheme is on a previously run-down site within the Frome Conservation Area. The site needed to be dealt with sensitively, with regard to land acquisition and urban design, and care was taken to work closely with the local community living adjacent to the area.

The design also needed to make a positive contribution to the character of the conservation area, whilst seeking to provide a modern scheme and avoiding a 'pastiche' of old Frome.

The Quarry Street Streetscape in Hamilton is the start of the task to regenerate Hamilton town centre. Funding of£2.5m has enabled a team, comprised of town planners, urban designers, civil engineers and community artists, to achieve a high quality streetscape scene. This takes its inspiration from the heritage, character and ambience of the town.

The scheme gives the street back to the pedestrians, creating open spaces, focal points and an ongoing management and maintenance operation. It also boasts custom-designed street furniture, and has involved a programme of Community Art.

The natural environment features largely in two more finalists.

For Welsh Water's Cefn Dryscoed Water Treatment Works in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the problem was how to site and design a new water treatment works, with the least adverse impact on the environment.

By locating the works in and beneath a group of disused farm buildings, it enabled the removal or renovation of unsightly, modern agricultural buildings; using, instead, Welsh slate and locally quarried stone for the utility's new infrastructure. The bulk of the sophisticated chemical and filtration plant lies below ground. There are no waste discharges or overflow pipes, allowing for almost total recycling.

The Kent Biodiversity Action Plan was produced to interpret Local Agenda 21 (the global political commitment to sustainable development) into local proposals for direct implementation.

It identifies the issues affecting habitats and species in Kent, and the particular actions needed to redress the continuing losses. Its major strength lies in the co-operative approach by a dedicated team, drawing on local and national government, statutory agencies, voluntary bodies and, crucially, land-owners and managers.

One finalist deals primarily with the issue of transport.

The Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Plan & High Street Route translates national transport and land-use policies, into practical specific plans for Shrewsbury. The subsequent plan resolves the conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, and takes account of the town's historic core, its narrow streets and its abundance of high quality buildings.

The plan has five main components:

- to encourage the use of public transport through a park & ride service

- the use of car-parking policies to manage demand

- a cycle network

- town centre improvements

- facilities for disabled people

Finally, two internet websites for planning have been shortlisted.

The Wandsworth LBC planning internet web site allows members of the public to have wide-ranging, speedy and free access to a very large part of the department's document management system, with a built-in e-mail facility.

Because the service is accessible in home, office and library, it saves time and effort in getting application forms, guidance notes or viewing a wide variety of plans from all locations - whether locally, nationally or internationally.

The UDP on the internet is a joint project from Westminster City Council and Estates Today. Whilst this service also provides general communication and access for all, it focuses on the overall development plan, supplemented by on-line planning application information.

The core requirements of the service are:

- access to total plan contents

- clear and user-friendly organisation

- powerful search facilities

- inclusion of ongoing developments

- feedback facilities

The announcement of the winners and presentation of the 1998 Awards for Planning Achievement will be at a lunch-time ceremony in London on Thursday 28 January 1999, when the prestigious Silver Jubilee Cup for Planning Achievement, the highest accolade of the planning profession, will be presented to the overall winner. There will also be a Special Award for Urban Design - a new initiative, sponsored by BT Payphones.

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