A striking landmark in a County Durham town has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Auckland Tower, in Bishop Auckland, could win an award for excellence in the Heritage and Culture category of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2019.

A 29-metre metal structure offering spectacular views from the top, the Auckland Tower forms part of the welcome centre of the Auckland Project. The Auckland Project is a visitor destination that opened in 2018.

The tower – though controversial in the planning stage – seems to be a hit with visitors, earning a score of 4.5 out of 5 on Trip Advisor.

Durham County Council submitted the application to the RTPI Awards on behalf of the Brighter Bishop Auckland Partnership Board. The application stressed the collaboration of different organisations in making the tower a reality.

To get the tower built, the council brought together officers from its development management, regeneration, design and conservation, landscape design, and strategic traffic teams. The officers then worked with The Auckland Project, Niall McLaughlin Architects and Historic England.

Auckland Tower (image two)
The Auckland Tower (image by House of Hues, courtesy of the Auckland Project)

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, Cllr Carl Marshall, said, “As part of our plans to rejuvenate Bishop Auckland town centre, we needed to make the most of the area’s fascinating heritage and enhance the visitor experience, which is exactly what the Auckland Project’s new welcome centre does.”

“The Auckland Tower is helping the town to further become a cultural tourist destination for local and international visitors.”

The chair of the partnership board and Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, added, “The Auckland Tower is a wonderful addition to the Bishop Auckland skyline.”

“Its views are terrific and the first floor is exquisite. It is a thoroughly worthy nominee for this prize.”

Chris Blacklock, the property director at the Auckland Project, said, “The Auckland Tower would not have been possible without the realignment of Bishop Auckland Market Place, which was funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and delivered by Durham County Council.”

“It is fantastic to see this partnership’s work now being recognised in the RTPI shortlist.”

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most prestigious awards in the UK planning sector. These awards – which have been running for over 40 years – highlight exceptional examples of planning and celebrate the contributions planners make to society.

The winners will be revealed on Wednesday 24th April, in a ceremony held at Milton Court Concert Hall in London.

(Featured image by Norman Cooper, courtesy of the Auckland Project)

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