There were an impressive number and range of high-quality entries for the Wales Planning Award 2011. The prize seeks to recognise, applaud and publicise examples of good planning practice in Wales. It can be tough for the award's judging panel to agree on a winner. But when the panel reviewed this year's shortlisted submissions, they were unanimous in their decision.
Their choice of winner was Igloo Regeneration's mixed-use Porth Teigr scheme, submitted by WYG Planning & Design. Porth Teigr - which means Tiger Gate in English, reflecting the site's relationship with Tiger Bay - demonstrated a commitment to excellence at all stages and forms a model for future similar developments across Wales.
While the efforts of supporting partners were crucial, Igloo's role in maintaining a high standard for stakeholder engagement, masterplanning, architectural quality, urban design and sustainability deserves recognition.
The range of local facilities and nationally important uses, including a major new BBC studio, on the site, together with the use of local and international expertise, mark this scheme out. Porth Teigr is the last part of Cardiff Bay to be developed.
Meanwhile, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council's Gurnos town centre regeneration scheme was highly commended. The judges' site visit revealed the project's importance not just as an example of physical regeneration, but also as a vehicle for improved community cohesion and capacity building through its facilitation of the 3Gs Development Trust's work.
The judges also commended two further schemes. The coordination of effort by Llantwit Major Town Council, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and local stakeholders in the Llantwit Major town centre regeneration project was impressive. The scheme is an excellent example of how a modest intervention can drive further improvement and provide a platform for the continued revitalisation of vital local shopping facilities.
The commendation of RCT Homes' and Hyder Consulting's Open Space scheme to develop areas of open space and invest in communities was an acknowledgement of significant efforts made by the promoters to engage with residents and generate community ownership of the work. The project's neighbourhood renewal toolkit provides a proven approach that can be used for future similar projects.
Overall, the judges were impressed by the role planners played across the range of projects and plans submitted for this year's award. Even in these uncertain economic times, it is pleasing to note how planners continue to act as catalysts for successful change in communities, facilitate technical solutions, drive projects forward and ensure that quality is to the fore in Wales.
Roisin Willmott is national director for RTPI Cymru. To find out more about the Wales Planning Award, visit www.rtpi.org.uk/rtpi_cymru.