THE UK’s most senior town planner has praised Whitehaven’s “superb heritage and great ambition” during a visit to town.
Ian Tant, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), was the guest of Copeland Council for a walk-around of Whitehaven’s key development sites on Friday.
Mr Tant, joined by Andrew Johnston and Beverley Watson from the RTPI’s North West branch, enjoyed a guided tour of the town’s iconic Georgian design and architecture, and visited a number of current and future regeneration sites including Albion Square, the Buzz Station, the North Shore site earmarked for a hotel, office and multi-storey car park, and the planned harbourside Coastal Activity Centre.
Mr Tant said: “Something really special is happening here in terms of Whitehaven’s long-term future. It’s a fantastic harbourside location, married with the stunning Georgian design, and I applaud the vision shown by Copeland Council and partners for bringing such ambitious and transformational schemes forward.
“There is real care being taken by Copeland Council to encourage high-quality developments and design, and I am very optimistic that this town will thrive. I look forward to coming back soon to see the ambition come to fruition.”
The delegation had earlier received a briefing on Whitehaven’s pioneering history in town planning and place shaping, and Copeland Council’s growth agenda, from Chief Executive Pat Graham and Planning Development Manager Nick Hayhurst. Also welcoming the RTPI guests were members of the council’s Planning teams; Councillors David Moore, Mike McVeigh and Joan Hully; and the council’s partners BEC, Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners and Disrupteive.
Mrs Graham said: “It was our privilege to welcome Mr Tant and the delegation to Whitehaven, and we were proud to share our passion for the town’s history and our ambitions for its future with some of the country’s and region’s most senior planners. We’re delighted that the RTPI delegation spoke so highly of our town.
“We believe that Whitehaven is the birthplace of town planning and place shaping, and this pioneering work that changed the world began right here.
“Whitehaven’s Georgian grid has been replicated throughout America from a design and masterplanning perspective; our grid is still in tact and were are very proud and protective of that.
“However, we are not a museum and, at the same time as respecting what came before, we are forward-thinking and welcome the challenge and opportunity that our regeneration brings.”
Mr Hayhurst added: “Planning is integrated in the vision, strategy and ethos of Copeland Council, and it’s about maximising what we have in Whitehaven – and adding to it – with support of key partners who share our aspirations.
“As a Planning team, we are proactive and ambitious and want to create an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.”