The iconic Grade II* listed Byker Estate in Newcastle upon Tyne was awarded ‘The Great Neighbourhood’ Award at the Academy of Urbanism Awards 2018 in London last night.
Byker fought off strong competition from fellow finalists Smithfield in Dublin and Golden Lane Estate in London.
The award is one of five given out each year by The Academy of Urbanism, a network of built environment experts from across Europe. They recognise Britain and Ireland’s best place, street, neighbourhood and town, as well as Europe’s best city. Voted on by its members, the Academy judges against a number of social, economic and environmental factors, including good governance and commercial success.
The Byker Estate, which is owned and managed by the Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association, was the only area in the North East to be shortlisted in this year’s awards.
The Academy of Urbanism Awards are the primary platform for recognising and celebrating great places and are one of the most rigorously judged awards in the industry. A team of Academicians carried out an assessment visit of the Estate in August and created a report for the Academy to cast its final vote.
Collecting the award on behalf of BCT, Jill Haley, Chief Executive, said: “On behalf of Byker, City of Newcastle and the North East community, I am delighted to accept this award from the Academy. This is credit to everybody involved, especially the BCT staff, Board and residents in helping to transform Byker over the last five years into a place where people aspire to live and work.
“Since July 2012, BCT has made significant improvements on the Estate. To date, we have invested £20.5m worth of improvements with a further £21m committed by 2025. However, this is not just about investment in the bricks and mortar, Byker is a Great Neighbourhood where vibrant mixed communities exist and it is steeped in history, something which we are keen to preserve and celebrate. It’s already becoming a popular place to live and now it has beaten off strong competition from other great neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, Dublin and London.”
Councillor Nick Kemp, Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Regulatory Services, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Byker has won this award, especially in a year when the Academy of Urbanism is focusing on places that have been rebuilt since 1945 to transform themselves into sustainable communities. As a Councillor in Byker it is not surprise that the area has been recognised as a great place to live and this award is a tribute to the fantastic hard work and commitment of all those involved in the revitalisation of the area.”
David Rudlin, Chair of the Academy, said: “Regeneration has become a dirty word but here we have the proof that when done well, with the right approach and by the right people, it can transform a neighbourhood. Built on a strong relationship between tenants and the Byker Community Trust, this neighbourhood has been transformed into a great place to live for a very socially, culturally and demographically diverse community. Design has played an important role, but the most important element has been this empowered form of governance through the involvement of residents.”
Lead Assessor, Tim Challans, commended for prioritising the hard issues. The assessment team noted that: “The exemplary regeneration by BCT has been led by the improvement of social and housing conditions rather than starting with the more straightforward environmental improvements that would have provided some quick but superficial wins. This is a good example of estate management that deals with the harder issues first.”
The other winners were: Bilbao, Spain which scooped European City of the Year award; Corby, Northamptonshire which won The Great Town Award; Humber Street Fruit Market in Hull, which picked up The Great Street Award; and London’s Brunswick Centre won The Great Place Award.
The awards were presented at the offices of U+I in London.