Stornoway seminary nominated for planning industry award

Lady Matheson's Seminary in Stornoway is a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021. Photograph: Lewis Builders Ltd.

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The project to transform a derelict Stornoway building into afforadbale homes is in the running for a top planning award.

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

The restoration and regeneration of the Category B-Listed building to create 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 Limited, the developer.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) leader Roddie Mackay said: ‘Following 20 years of uncertainty, Lady Matheson’s Seminary has been rescued for the benefit of the community and future generations.

‘Renamed Lady Matheson Court, the project will provide affordable accommodation in the town centre.

‘Congratulations are due to Lewis Builders Limited which took on the risk and had the vision for the building and worked with the comhairle and Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) to source funding to make the development happen.’

HHP chairman 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 Limited 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 our partnership approach to rescue a much admired building with significant historical importance to the island has being recognised.

‘It is testament to the collaborative work we have undertaken with the help of Historic Environment Scotland, CnES and Hebridean Housing Partnership that this building has being restored for the benefit of the community.’

Award winners will be announced during a virtual ceremony at 4pm on Thursday April 29.

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 – more than 26,000 worldwide – throughout their careers.