Northumberlandia takes tourism and leisure honours at RICS north east renaissance awards

April 26, 2013 | Community News

The positive impact on the north east’s tourism and leisure industry of the world’s largest human landform has been recognised in the region’s property industry ‘Oscars’

The development of Northumberlandia, the world’s largest human landform, by regional property and energy firm the Banks Group and Blagdon Estate was chosen as the winner of the Tourism & Leisure category of the 2013 Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) North East Renaissance Awards.

The award “honours projects that make an outstanding contribution to and demonstrable impact on tourism and leisure facilities in the region” and was judged by a panel of 14 north east property industry experts.

Since being officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in September last year, Northumberlandia has proved extremely popular with local residents and tourists alike, with many thousands of people visiting the 47-acre public park in which she resides every week.

Blagdon and Banks wholly funded the landform’s creation, investing around £3m in the project and taking two and a half years to construct the landform using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully selected stone, clay and soil extracted from the adjacent Shotton Surface Mine that Banks operates.

It was designed in line with a “restoration first” approach, where extra land not needed for coal mining was provided by the Blagdon Estate to deliver a lasting positive legacy for both the local community and the wider region at an early stage in the development of the mine, rather than waiting until the end of operations.

Banks and Blagdon have also provided long-term funding for the management of the park by independent charity The Land Trust, in association with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Azure Charitable Enterprises, as an amenity for the local community and an attraction for visitors to the region.

It’s the second industry honour that the project has received in a short space of time, after it was shortlisted for the Excellence in Planning & Design for the Public Realm category of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) national Awards for Planning Excellence

Philip Baker, planning director at the Banks Group, says: “The long-term impact on local tourism, and the boost that an increase in visitor numbers would provide to the local economy, was very much front of mind when Northumberlandia was conceived and developed.

“We are thrilled with the constant flow of visitors to the site that was quickly established after she opened last year from both within the local community and further afield, and which has been maintained ever since, and this award is further confirmation of the landform’s prominence, in every way, within the regional leisure landscape.”

Bob Downer, chief executive at the Blagdon Estate, adds: “Northumberlandia forms the centrepiece of a fantastic recreational facility for local people and visitors alike, and getting independent recognition like this of her many merits is further support for Banks and Blagdon’s decision to fund and create something so unforgettably unique.

“As Northumberlandia and the park that surrounds her mature over the coming year, we expect she will become even more popular, which will in turn sustain and enhance the economic impact she has on the north east over the long-term.”

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