Public realm in running for major planning honour

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The £1.9m public realm scheme in Magherafelt has been named as a finalist in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards For Planning Excellence.

The scheme is among 10 shortlisted from across the UK in the ‘Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy’ and one of only two finalists from Northern Ireland in the 2019 awards which celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

Funded by Mid Ulster District Council and the Department for Communities, the public realm works brought a new look to the town centre, including new paving, seating, lighting and planting to Broad Street, Queen Street, Rainey Street, Market Street and The Diamond.

Three striking lighting columns – representing the three church spires of Magherafelt – were erected in Market Square and a large piece of art ‘Our Story’ created by the artist, Maurice Harron, using designs submitted by more than 200 local people, now stands in the mini-roundabout.

Chair of the Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake, said: “These are prestigious awards which attract hundreds of applications every year, so to be among the finalists is testament to the quality of the scheme and the significant role planning has to play in helping to delivering positive, economic impacts on our town centres”.

RTPI President Ian Tant MRTPI said: “Many congratulations to all this year’s finalists, who demonstrate outstanding contributions to planning, producing a positive effect on our communities, the economy and the environment. They have shown how planners can use their passion and skills to meet needs, deliver high quality design and tackle environmental challenges – they should all be proud of their role as a force for good in society.”

The winners will be announced during a ceremony held at Milton Court Concert Hall in central London on April 24.

The RTPI champions the power of planning in creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. It is the only body in the UK that confers Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification sought after by employers.

Work on the Magherafelt public realm and those at Cookstown and Dungannon was completed by the close of 2016. They benefited from a £8m investment funded through the former Department for Social Development (£4.5m) and Mid Ulster District Council (£3.5m).