FINALISTS, Academy of Urbanism, 2015


Efforts over three years led to Irvine becoming a finalist in the Academy of Urbanism Award for Best Place, and attending the Awards Ceremony on 6th Nov., 2015 in London.

While another finalist, the Peace Bridge in Derry, gained the award, the achievement of Irvine Harbour in reaching the finals is a major boost to our town and a major acknowledgement of our achievement - by 'our' we mean everyone involved in improving the harbourside, both the voluntary organisations and the local authority departments. See below for more about Urbanism.

Photos show: (a) Kings Cross Station on Award day (suits the Urbanism motto 'space, place & life'), (b) the Grand Connaught Rooms where the award ceremony took place, (c) Academy of Urbanism Chairman Stephen Bee with the Irvine group of (L to R) Gordon Bain, Marion Francis, Louise Dickson, Ian Dickson and George Hunter, (d) The Irvine Finalist Certificate held by George & Ian, and (e) Great Place lead assessor Nick Childs introducing the finalists.




The Academy of Urbanism focuses on space, place and life -
it recognises, encourages and celebrates great places across the UK, Europe and beyond, and the people and organisations that create and sustain them. It includes planners, designers, academic researchers, engineers, and many others active in improving urban spaces for the benefit of those living in them.

The places their assessors visit are often surprised by their nomination - we in Irvine certainly were.
The Academy says: "The people responsible for creating and sustaining great places do what feels natural and inevitable. They don't (generally) seek recognition but are (usually) delighted and surprised to find that what they are doing is exceptional."

We in Irvine are delighted to have been nominated, then assessed, then selected as a finalist.

Quotes from the Assessor's Report:
"Prior to .. New Town status, Irvine was an established town and port enjoying a rich history and traditions which cannot be matched by most of the UK's post-war New Towns."
"The assessors were highly impressed by the level of partnership working, community engagement and innovation, certainly not apparent in other places elsewhere."
"The main harbourside promenade [is] cycle friendly and highly conducive to pedestrian activity."
"Whereas many Scottish towns turn their back on their waterfront, Irvine Harbourside forms the connection between the town and the sea. It remains a working, living environment. The essential character of a working historic harbour has been maintained, with a diversity of attractions relating to culture, heritage, sport and passive enjoyment providing the incentives to visit."

The 2015 winners were:

The Great Place (our category): Peace Bridge with Ebrington Square, Derry
The Great Street: Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork
The Great Neighbourhood: Hastings Old Town
The Great Town: Frome, Somerset
European City of the Year: San Sebastian, Spain

The poem written for Irvine Harbour
by Academy of Urbanism Poet in Residence Ian Macmillan (the typesetting is ours)

This is a world built from WATER and LIGHT;
This is a world made from HISTORY and CHANGE;
This is a PLACE unafraid to arrange
The SHAPES OF THE PAST until they take flight into a FUTURE that hums with delight.
IRVINE. The HARBOUR's long been an EXCHANGE for goods and ideas -
And NOW, as you WALK by the HARBOURSIDE and stop
- for a pint or to take in some art -
think of the BARD and what he'd make of
this REGENERATION come in with tide;
He'd think it gorgeous. It would lift his heart.
He'd plant on its shining cheek Ae Fond Kiss.


Return to top