The Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning marked its 18th awards ceremony this week celebrating achievements in planning, right from the detail of processing through to the bigger picture of creating places.

This year Planning and Architecture modernised the awards to reflect the ‘Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design’, attracting a record high number of 60 applications, of which 32 were shortlisted.

The event saw a triple success for Fife, with awards for the Forth Bridge World Heritage Partnership in the Partnership and People’s Choice categories, and Fife Council’s former senior planning manager Jim Birrell receiving the ‘Personal Achievement in Planning’ award in recognition of 44 years’ of commitment to planning.

The ‘Personal Achievement in Planning’ award recognises either an individual planner or team who has made an outstanding contribution to planning. The judges felt Jim’s style is one that “provided common sense to complex situations”.

Douglas Speirs, Fife Council’s archaeologist, said:  It’s taken five long years of innovative, multi-agency public, private and third sector working to achieve the recognition that the Forth Bridge deserves. Having now secured World Heritage listing for Scotland’s most iconic piece of industrial heritage, it is the icing on the cake to have had our project recognised as an exemplar of its type and by the Scottish Government’s SAQP 2016 awards.”

Robin Presswood, head of economy, planning and employability services, said: “I am delighted for the teams involved, for the Council, its partners, and for the communities who have who have contributed towards these awards. We are carrying out pioneering work in Fife, and winning in three categories at these prestigious awards is helping us to celebrate the quality of our local built environment. I was particularly pleased that Jim Birrell’s lifelong commitment to Fife, and the planning profession, was recognised.

“These awards mark just a few of Fife’s outstanding examples of planning that have made a positive impact on the local community and environment.”

Moray Council has won an award for its Creating Places in Moray initiative which, submitted by the council in partnership with Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS), explained the steps that have been taken to improve the design standards of development and promote better placemaking across Moray.

Winning the award reflects the commitment and leadership of the council to work together with its partners to improve design standards which is supported by the three key steps of training, policy and process.

The council’s head of development services, Jim Grant, said: “The award recognises our commitment to improve design standards in new development across Moray.

“High quality design is embedded in the Moray Local Development Plan which forms the basis of all planning decisions, and our Urban Design Guide.

“The council has introduced a quality auditing process which involves a multi-disciplinary team of council officers assessing development proposals and working together – and with developers – to resolve design issues.”

Council officers from a range of key services, elected members, local developers, and community councils have also undertaken a programme of design and masterplan training facilitated by A&DS which has provided a common understanding of design issues and fostered a shared ambition of creating better places in Moray.

This has informed the production of both the Findrassie Masterplan, which also received an award at the ceremony, and Elgin South Masterplan, both of which demonstrate high standards of urban design.

Two Scottish Borders Council (SBC) projects were also successful on the night.

The Glentress Masterplan Supplementary Guidance, produced by SBC in partnership with Forest Enterprise Scotland and Barton Willmore, and work with Scottish Water Horizons to investigate the potential to obtain heating for council buildings from waste water were announced as award winners at the ceremony.

Councillor Ron Smith, SBC’s executive member for planning and environment, said: “Receiving these awards is fitting recognition for the work that council officers and partners have undertaken on these two projects, I congratulate them on their success.”

The Glentress Masterplan was a substantial piece of policy work with Forest Enterprise Scotland which sets out a vision of how Glentress forest can be developed successfully in the future, including more amenities for visitors.

Leona Wilkie of Forest Enterprise Scotland said: “We’re thrilled to bits on receiving the award for the Glentress Masterplan. This has been a real partnership effort with Scottish Borders Council and it is great news to have the plan recognised for its quality and professionalism.

“It is an exciting time for Glentress and the Tweed Valley and through the Masterplan there is a fantastic opportunity to develop the tourism potential to the next level, bringing many economic benefits to the region.”

The heat from waste water work has involved looking at relatively new, innovative technology, but which is already utilised locally by Borders College, to heat property using the natural heat which emanates from nearby waste water pipes.

Andrew MacDonald, head of Scottish Water Horizons, said: “The UK’s first SHARC heat from sewage scheme is up and running in Galashiels and, with 32,000 miles of sewer pipes and over 900 million litres of waste water being treated in Scotland every day, there is huge potential for this technology.

“We are delighted with this award, which is recognition of our work with Scottish Borders Council to investigate the potential for our resources to be harnessed in a similar way in public, residential and commercial buildings.

“Meanwhile, Scottish Water Horizons has announced its intention to form a strategic alliance with SHARC Energy Systems (UK) Ltd to accelerate the deployment of further schemes – helping to reduce heating costs, carbon emissions and build an increasingly sustainable Scotland.”

Judges also praised the Speyside Way pathway extension project in Cairngorms National Park.

The scheme involved building a 15-mile extension to one of the four official long distance walking routes in Scotland. The new path now takes the route from Aviemore to Ardgeal through new areas of pine and deciduous woodland.

The design and build phase of the project involved a range of partners including Scottish Natural Heritage, the communities and businesses along the route, SustransSport Scotlandand Commonwealth Games Legacy Fund, as well as the design and path construction skills of the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust.

Over 6,000 people have now travelled the full length of the extension since it opened in September 2015. Work is now continuing to take the route further to Newtonmore.

Pete Crane, head of visitor services at the CNPA, said: “This project has involved a lot of committed and very determined people working unseen to ensure that we built the path on the best route for both visitors and local communities. It is very pleasing that this work has been recognised along with the support that we received from those communities and our Board in pursuing preferred route.”

Eleanor Mackintosh, convenor of planning at CNPA, added: “We are delighted to have won this award. It is a great achievement and fantastic recognition for everyone involved in the Speyside Way extension right from the very start of the process.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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