Planning to take top honours

A RECENT addition to the county’s list of major tourist sites has won a regional accolade.

The development of Northumberlandia by the Blagdon Estate and regional mining firm Banks Group was named as the best example of Planning in a Rural Area at the Royal Town Planning Institute North East’s annual awards.

The organisation’s national President Colin Haylock recently visited the sculpture, which sits adjacent to Banks’ Shotton surface coal mine, to see the world’s largest human landform for himself and present the scheme’s planning team with their honour.

Judges were impressed with the high standard of the restoration and landscaping project and noted that the project has been completed well before mining has ended at Shotton as a result of the project partners’ commitment to a ‘restoration first’ approach.

Since being officially opened by The Princess Royal in early September, the feature has proved extremely popular with local residents and tourists alike, with many thousands of people visiting the 47-acre public park in which she resides every week.

Philip Baker, planning director at Banks Group, said: “Northumberlandia was a very ambitious and challenging project and her realisation and this subsequent award are a real testament to the unmatched levels of dedication and technical excellence shown by all of the team involved in her creation.

“It was designed as both an outstanding artistic landmark which would fit in alongside the region’s other main tourist attractions and as the centrepiece of new high quality leisure facilities for use by the local community and visitors to the area.”

For more information about the initiative, visit