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The Newt won a category at the Royal Town Planning Institute's Excellence in Planning Awards 2020

Tuesday 12 May 2020, 14:57
By Richard Birch

An aerial photo of The Newt in Somerset: looking northwards across the central gardens area, with the many new visitor buildings and cider press in the centre beyond the gardens, and the refurbished, extended and converted Grade II* Hadspen House to the left

South Somerset District Council is delighted to announce that The Newt in Somerset was named as the winner of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture Award at a virtual ceremony on 30th April.

The nomination arose from a joint submission by SSDC and AZ Urban Studio, agents for the project.

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for over 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

The Project, which is ongoing, succeeded within a national short list of 10 schemes and represents a heritage-led diversification of a traditional country estate, transforming the Grade II* listed Hadspen House and extensive heritage landscape into a major regional visitor attraction.

When the Hadspen House estate was sold in 2013 after more than two centuries in the Hobhouse family, the new owners brought with them a vision for change and investment. Six years later, the estate opened to the public as The Newt in Somerset with historic buildings and landscape restored and put back to productive use, and new buildings and gardens completed to serve the anticipated 100,000 annual visitors.

Delivering such large-scale transformation in a rural historic environment has involved close partnership working with South Somerset District Council’s planning team and other stakeholders over a number of years.

The interior of The Entrance Barn at The Newt in Somerset: a wholly new build structure to greet visitors upon arrival

“Winning this award is a real tonic for the team and the culmination of many years work by various officers with AZ Urban Studio, moreover our district has a fantastic attraction that showcases the very best of Somerset and creates local employment.”

 - Simon Fox, Lead Specialist for Planning at South Somerset District Council

“This is a real reward for the positive and collaborative planning work that has gone into creating The Newt in Somerset, and we hope that it continues to inspire planners to work together to solve problems and shape the transformation of sensitive places.”

 - Martin Harradine, Planning Director at AZ Urban Studio

“This is an example of the good work our planning team does every day and I’m really glad this scheme and the work that has gone into it has been recognised. The owner should be applauded for the investment he has made into the local area, the visitor attraction that has resulted and the employment that has been created.”

 - Tony Lock, Portfolio Holder for Protecting Core Services

Although The Newt has temporarily closed its hotel and restaurants in line with government policy during the coronavirus pandemic, its farm shop remains open with essential foods of various sorts and it is also offering free home delivery within 15 miles. The Newt’s online shop is also open.

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2020 virtual ceremony


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