Northumberlandia takes tourism and leisure honour

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The positive impact on the north east’s tourism and leisure industry of the world’s largest human landform has been recognised in the region’s property industry Oscars.

The development of Northumberlandia, the world’s largest human landform, by the Banks Group and Blagdon Estate was chosen as the winner of the Tourism Leisure category of the 2013 Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) North East Renaissance Awards.

The award “honours projects that make an outstanding contribution to and demonstrable impact on tourism and leisure facilities in the region” and was judged by a panel of 14 north east property industry experts.

Since being officially opened by The Princess Royal in September last year, Northumberlandia has been visited by thousands of people every week.

Blagdon and Banks funded the landform’s creation, investing around £3m in the project and taking two and a half years to construct the landform using 1.5 million tonnes of stone, clay and soil extracted from the adjacent Shotton Surface Mine.

The firms have also provided long-term funding for the management of the park by independent charity The Land Trust, in association with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Azure Charitable Enterprises, as an amenity for the local community and an attraction for visitors to the region.

It’s the second industry honour that the project has received in a short space of time, after it was shortlisted for the Excellence in Planning and Design for the Public Realm category of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) national Awards for Planning Excellence.

Philip Baker, planning director at the Banks Group, says: “The long-term impact on local tourism, and the boost that an increase in visitor numbers would provide to the local economy, was very much front of mind when Northumberlandia was conceived and developed.

“We are thrilled with the constant flow of visitors to the site that was quickly established after she opened last year from both within the local community and further afield, and which has been maintained ever since, and this award is further confirmation of the landform’s prominence, in every way, within the regional leisure landscape.”

Bob Downer, chief executive at the Blagdon Estate, added: “Northumberlandia forms the centrepiece of a fantastic recreational facility for local people and visitors alike, and getting independent recognition like this of her many merits is further support for Banks and Blagdon’s decision to fund and create something so unforgettably unique.

“We expect she will become even more popular, which will in turn sustain and enhance the economic impact she has on the north east over the long-term.”