A bustling national park visitor centre, a revamped engine shed and a disused reservoir triumphantly returned to a natural landscape were all the outstanding winners at last Thursday’s Countryside Awards.
The awards were hosted by Friends of the Peak District, along with the Peak District National Park Authority.
“We’re celebrating the best in building and landscape design, as well as excellence in countryside interpretation and access,” said the chair of the judging panel, Christopher Pennell. “The winners are all projects that have a sensitive regard for their sense of place – the Peak District. Friends of the Peak District is a great little charity that campaigns to protect the countryside. These awards are a way of inspiring people to also enhance rural landscapes and use good design.”
Narendra Bajaria, Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, added: “We require architects to be creative and innovative in designing sustainable, quality buildings suitable for the 21st century while fitting into the special cultural landscape of the national park.”
There were three Peak District winners.
Severn Trent Water won a Design Award for the Lightwood Reservoir Landscape Scheme. This ambitious scheme naturalised the landscape after taking a small disused reservoir above Buxton out of use. It is an area used by walkers, and the much-loved circular walk around the site had been kept. The judges said, “The illusion of a semi-natural valley with its stream and in-course pools was triumphantly achieved…proving that Severn Trent Water’s footprint on this land can be gentle and will fade as nature heals the scars.”
The Peak District National Park Authority won an Access and Interpretation Award for Castleton National Park Visitor Centre. The judges praised the centre for “cramming so much material and interpretation in together, and creating a cornucopia of Peak District discovery to tempt visitors to want to see more and learn more.”
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council won two awards – a Design Award, and the PDNPA Special Award for Building Design – for the Manifold Valley Conservation Project which converted the old light railway engine shed at Hulme End into a visitor centre with a café. The judges said the renovation is “very much in character with the old photographs but without the slavish replication which might have made it less useful as a publicly serviceable building.”