The transformation the former Harvey’s depot in Lewes – into Depot cinema, restaurant and education facilities – was commended at a prestigious national awards ceremony last night.

It was commended in the Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture category at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018 – the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry.

The previously vacant site, in a prominent, sensitive location within the Lewes Conservation Area and surrounded by numerous listed buildings, was sensitively redeveloped to provide a new community arts venue.

The redevelopment – undertaken by Burrell Foley Fischer and the South Downs National Park Authority – also includes new green infrastructure including an orchard, wild flower garden and landscaping.

A travel plan, community minibus, public transport discounts and pedestrian maps were also developed to minimise the impact of additional traffic in the area.

Craig McLaren FRTPI, RTPI Awards Advisor said: “A desire to reuse existing buildings to create Depot rather than simply redevelop the site demonstrates proactive planning at its best. The planners undertook useful, ongoing engagement with the local community, including very strong pre application consultation – a key to this project’s success. The project team worked closely with key stakeholders to deliver a community arts centre that is universally supported and of genuine community value.”

Running for over 40 years, the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society. This year saw a record number of entrants and the judges shortlisted 78 finalists across the UK in 13 categories.

Andrew Jones MRTPI, Practice Leader Design, Planning + Economics at AECOM said: “AECOM is proud to be a headline sponsor once again of the RTPI’s Awards for Planning Excellence. Those recognised tonight illustrate the best of the planning profession and demonstrate the impact we have on quality and delivery in every area of the built environment. On behalf of AECOM I would like to extend our congratulations to all of the commendations and winners.”

David Jackson MRTPI, Head of Planning, Savills said: “Savills is delighted to be a headline sponsor of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The winners this year reflect the positive impact planning has on our communities across the UK, Ireland and internationally through projects, plans and people. I’d like to congratulate all of those short-listed for awards and the category winners on behalf of the team at Savills.”

The Royal Town Planning Institute champions the power of planning in creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. It represents over 25,000 members worldwide, supporting them throughout their careers. The Institute shapes planning policy, raise professional standards and is the only body in the UK to confer Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification.