Town planners in Lerwick received a boost this week when they won the premier award in the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning.
From a possible 25 entries, Lerwick Waterfront Regeneration was the overall winner in the development on the ground category. The award was presented at a ceremony in Edinburgh last Thursday.
The project received praise from the judges, who included Scottish retail consortium director Fiona Moriarty and Taylor Wimpey Developments strategic planning director Richard Holland. They were said to be “extremely impressed” with the way in which funding had come from a variety of sources to boost the area.
They said: “The economic, social and environmental benefits for the community and Shetland are clear. We are confident that the restoration of the waterfront will act as a strong catalyst for further regeneration in the area and wish the council well in their endeavours.”
Present at the awards ceremony were SIC planning committee chairman, councillor Frank Robertson, head of planning Iain McDairmid and former head of planning Alistair Hamilton.
Mr Robertson said: “It was clear during the presentation ceremony that we were in competition with a number of outstanding projects across Scotland. A neighbourhood regeneration project in Dundee was a strong contender.
“There was also an interesting and very imaginative project in Hawick. Another entry, the re-opening of the Alloa to Stirling railway, had also had major benefits. So, we were delighted when the Lerwick project was announced as the winner.”
Former head of planning Mr Hamilton was involved in the project from the outset. He said: “For me, the thing that stands out is the way in which so many people worked together on this. In the early days, we had excellent advice from a firm of consultants, Conran Roche Planning. As the project developed, many different organisations lent their support.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Briden Harding, formerly of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who helped secure funding for the North Ness area and was instrumental in securing the land for the new Shetland Museum and Archives.
“We also had great co-operation from other council departments as we sought to deal with a whole host of legal, financial, housing, economic development and roads issues. More recently, Jimmy Moncrieff and the trustees and staff at the Shetland Amenity Trust have done a superb job on the Museum and Archives.
“Mareel is yet to come and will, I’m sure, be a real asset.
Many others, including local and national architects, engineers and surveyors have played a big part, too. It’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet, but this award is a tribute to a lot of hard work by many people.”
The project is a good example, said head of planning Mr McDairmid, of what an impact regeneration can have on an area.
He said: “This award is a recognition of the value of developing a sound strategy and sticking to it. A proper plan can inspire confidence and help to attract money from a whole range of sources, many of them outside Shetland.
“These things do take time, but I’m sure that those who remember this part of the waterfront as it was 20 years ago will agree that the transformation is remarkable.”