Stornoway’s Lady Matheson’s Seminary Nominated for Prestigious Award

Stornoway’s Lady Matheson’s Seminary, also known as the Industrial Female School, has been named as a finalist in the category for Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for over 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

The restoration and regeneration of the derelict Category B Listed building to create much needed affordable-rented accommodation, securing the special historic character of the building for the future and an enhanced streetscape in the heart of the Stornoway Conservation Area was achieved as a result of planning staff working with colleagues in Housing; Historic Environment Scotland; and Lewis Builders Ltd, the developer.

CnES Leader Roddie Mackay said: “Following twenty years of uncertainty, Lady Matheson's Seminary, an important part of Stornoway's heritage has been rescued for the benefit of the community and future generations. Renamed Lady Matheson Court, the project delivers tangible benefits for communities by providing inclusive design and affordable accommodation facilities in the town centre. Congratulations are due to Lewis Builders Ltd who took on the risk and had the vision for the building and worked with the Comhairle and Hebridean Housing Partnership to source funding to make the development happen.”

HHP Chair Iain Macmillan commented: “Seeing the potential in what looks like a ruin takes skill, but doing something about it takes courage and commitment. We echo Roddie Mackay’s congratulations to Lewis Builders Ltd for going beyond the ‘seeing’ to the ‘doing’ and to the planners for enabling not only the restoration of part of Stornoway’s heritage but the provision of much needed affordable homes.”

Dan Maclennan, Director of Lewis Builders said: “we are delighted that our partnership approach to rescue a much admired building with significant historical importance to the island has being recognised and nominated for an award is recognition enough, but to be shortlisted as a finalist is tremendous. It is testament to the collaborative work which we have undertaken with the assistance of Historic Environment Scotland, CnES and Hebridean Housing Partnership that this building has being restored for the benefit of the community.”

RTPI President Wei Yang FRTPI said: “Many congratulations to all the finalists at this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence – these projects, teams and individuals showcase the very best of the planning profession from all the RTPI’s regions and nations and from countries around the world.

“For over 40 years, these prestigious awards have celebrated the exceptional work undertaken by town planners. In the middle of a global pandemic, I believe they are more relevant than ever before, recognising the incredible commitment and dedication of planners who have risen to the challenge of responding to the impacts of Covid-19 on the planning system.

“I wish all the finalists the very best of luck at the ceremony on 29 April.”

Sarah Elliott MRTPI, UK&I Town Planning Lead for Buildings + Places at AECOM, said: “AECOM is proud to once again be a headline sponsor of this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The finalists are a diverse mixture of outstanding examples of planning, including new responses driven by the pandemic and climate change. Once again this demonstrates the breadth of the impact the profession has on quality place making and delivery in the built environment, alongside our resilience to evolve and adapt.”

The winners will be announced during a ceremony held virtually in the Awards Room on Evessio at 4pm on Thursday 29 April 2021.

The RTPI champions the power of planning in creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. It is the only body in the UK that confers Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification sought after by employers. It supports its members – over 26,000 worldwide - throughout their careers.

All photos should be credited to Lewis Builders Ltd.