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Young Planners Take RTPI North East Student Award

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Will Allman and George Oldroyd

The work of two young North East planning professionals has been recognised by the regional arm of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

George Oldroyd and Will Allman have been chosen as winners of the RTPI North East’s Regional Student Awards for their work on how preconceptions about urban centres across the region are reached and the factors that sustain them, using Sunderland and Bishop Auckland as case studies.

Their year-long projects were carried out as part of their studies at Newcastle University, since the conclusion of which both have been recruited by North East employer The Banks Group to work on a range of live development projects across the region.

George’s project includes an examination of the expected impact that Sunderland’s UK City of Culture proposals would have had on perceptions of the city if it had won the competition.

Interviews were conducted and questionnaires handed out in a range of locations around Sunderland, with meetings being arranged with a number of community leaders to ensure a breadth of local opinion was factored into their findings.

Will’s work focused on the potential paths for the revival of Bishop Auckland by creating a spatial plan for its regeneration which assessed existing opportunities in the town and the surrounding area of County Durham.

A range of tourism-related themes were identified as part of this, including walking, cycling, religion, accommodation and food, with assessments of the practicalities of each one and how internal and external investment could be collected to fund them within the town also carried out.

Ideas for the potential delivery mechanisms of initiatives including cycle ways, food festivals and enhanced tourist accommodation were then developed, with copies of the completed report and background research being sent to Durham County Council for their consideration.

George Oldroyd says: “A wide range of factors can influence the general perception of a given city, and in Sunderland’s case, themes of decline, football, safety and security were identified as being the key influences on the view people have of it from both within and outside the city.

“The analytical skills we used through our projects, the data collection and assessment work we did and the way in which we needed to build an understanding of all the factors that influence the perceptions and potential of our chosen locations are helping us in our new post-graduate careers, and it’s very pleasing to get this recognition from the RTPI for the quality of the research we produced.”

Keith Tarn, group HR manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Providing career opportunities to talented young people is a crucial part of securing sustainable success for both long-standing businesses such as ourselves and the wider regional economy.

“George and Will are already demonstrating the expertise, creativity and application which led them to get this recognition from the RTPI, and we’re glad to have them as part of our team.”