Landscape Architects at Sunderland City Council have won their fourth award in a row at the Northern Design Awards.
This year has seen the team win the Commercial Landscape award for works at St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth.
Previous successes have been for Columbia Grange School, Roker and Seaburn seafront, and last year for Keel Square.
The landscape improvements to St Peter’s were carried out over an eight month period and completed in the summer of 2015. They were part of wider works to help the public understand the historical significance of the site and reflect its heritage.
This is because St Peter’s dates back to the very beginnings of Sunderland when Benedict Biscop founded a monastery on the banks of the River Wear in 674. The founding of the church in the Saxon period makes it one of the oldest churches in the country. The scriptorium at Monkwearmouth produced the Codex Amiatinus taken to Rome in 716. It is the oldest surviving Latin bible in the world.
The award was presented to the council by Councillor Mel Speding at its last full meeting. Cllr Speding oversees the planning and built environment subjects as part of his portfolio.
He said: “Once again, it’s very pleasing to hear how the team’s hard work, professionalism, and high quality services have been recognised outside our city.
“The award shows how this council and city have properly reflected the importance of the church and monastery and its continuing relevance to the people of Sunderland.”
This year’s Northern Design Awards judging panel featured Linda Barker, Wayne Hemingway, Nick Munro, Jan Constantine, HRH Princess Katarina and internationally renowned designer, George Bond, plus the influential Alison Vance and Noel Farrer.
Other short listed projects included a new public space in Leeds and York University campus.
Kevin Johnson, the city’s Principal Landscape Architect, said: “We know the importance of Benedict Biscop and Bede in our national histories and were delighted to be working on such a crucial project.
“We worked very closely with the local Parish of Saint Peter’s, The Diocesan Advisory Committee of Durham, The Church Commissioners for England, Historic England and Professor Rosemary Cramp.
“It speaks volumes for everyone who was involved with the project that we’ve had this recognition. The award is one that everyone in Sunderland and our region can be proud of as St Peter’s is such an important site for our city, our region and for the country.”
The City Council had allocated a budget for public realm improvements and initial design work and consultations began in September 2011. All the main public realm works to the grounds of the Church were carried out over an eight month period and completed in June 2015 at a cost of £907,000. Other works to the surrounding highway were completed in September 2016.
The Revd Richard Bradshaw, Team Rector, Parish of Monkwearmouth, said: “This award is well merited. The vision, imagination and dedication of Kevin Johnson and his team has been first class and the newly landscaped churchyard at St Peter’s – reflecting as it does the outline of the original monastery in such an informative and attractive way – has drawn many new visitors from near and far.
“Comments in the visitor book are invariably filled with praise for the design. Sunderland children in particular have been enabled much more clearly to visualise the original setting and the astonishing heritage which we share in this ancient and world-influencing Christian site.
“Kevin and his team have been a very real pleasure to work with and St Peter’s and the Parish of Monkwearmouth would like to offer the warmest of congratulations.”