Corby has officially beaten all other places in the UK and Ireland to be named as the Great Town for 2018 in the Academy of Urbanism Awards, held last night in London.
Corby made the finals, alongside strong competition from Coventry and Milton Keynes, for the Great Town Award 2018. On nominating Corby, the Academy wrote:
‘Corby is a town being transformed. Still barely halfway through the 30 year growth plan set out in the Regeneration Framework in 2003, its revival has been phoenix-like, emerging from post-industrial decay following the closure of the steelworks and the loss of 11,500 jobs in 1980. Corby demonstrates what can be achieved through civic ambition and a commitment to growth and today is the fastest-growing borough outside London’. ‘This has been achieved through a coordinated programme of regeneration, renewal and reinvention and partnership working. It is more than a regeneration programme but a unique vision that is creating a modern living and working environment. Housing and commercial growth, new and improved infrastructure and public facilities demonstrate how Corby is challenging old perceptions and creating a vibrant town. Over the last 20 years, Corby has seen the highest proportion of new home sales over anywhere in the UK. The town centre now boasts the new International Pool, the Corby Cube, Willow Place shopping centre and a remodelled pedestrian friendly environment. The opening of the railway station has put the town within an hour of London St Pancras’. ‘Corby is investing in the quality of its workforce and new training facilities and businesses benefit from a number of support programmes, such as Growing Corby and Enterprise 4 Corby. There is still more to do but Corby demonstrates the importance of civic ambition and a coordinated regeneration framework which has provided the basis for transformation of the local economy through a programme of investment in key projects and infrastructure.’
Leader of Corby Borough Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said:
‘We are delighted that Corby has been recognised out of the whole of the UK and Ireland as the Great Town 2018. It is real recognition of the vision, investment and partnership working that has gone in to regenerating our Borough over recent years.
‘Already since the beginning of 2000 we have built over 6,000 new properties, including over 600 affordable homes – 153 of which are council homes with more on the way. As well as new homes, we have also been improving the infrastructure of our Borough which has resulted in achievements such as schools in Corby being built, rebuilt or significantly improved, our train station being enhanced by a new dual track and electrification that will increase journeys to and from the Borough and our night time economy going form strength to strength due to the investment in the Town Centre.
‘It is all of these achievements, along with the amazing community that are at our Borough’s core that make Corby such a great town. We have known it all along and we are very proud that it has now been made official!’
David Rudlin, chair of the Academy, said, “Corby has achieved what many towns in the wider ripples of the ‘London effect’ hope to – a desirable, affordable, well-connected place to live and bring up a family, whether you are a commuter into London or working locally in one of the town’s many new businesses. Corby’s transition over the past decade is an excellent example of what can be achieved by creating a shared vision and, most importantly, seeing it through.”
Lead assessor, Michele Grant commended Corby for balancing its focus between commercial success and amenity. The assessment team noted “The town’s strategy has been to both attract new industries and jobs into the town, which it has achieved, while ensuring it delivers a good quality of life for its growing population. This includes building of a new Olympic size swimming pool in the town centre and creating community centres in every new housing community”.
As well as scooping up the trophy, Corby will also be featured in the Academy of Urbanism’s forthcoming book and a poem about the town was also composed by Ian McMillan:
‘By the time you finish reading these lines
Corby will have grown even more than before
And will have begun to burst spectacularly
Out of this poem and into tomorrow,
Swelling as it goes, like a sunrise fills the sky
And it could all have been so different, a tale
Of rust and neglect, but here is the station
Here are platforms for change, here is a cube
And here’s a Savoy, and here’s a long pool
The whole town can swim down, splashing
To a future that’s bright as steel, bright as hope,
Bright as the feeling this town expands into.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
2018 Urbanism Awards finalists (winners are asterisked):
EUROPEAN CITY OF THE YEAR
THE GREAT TOWN AWARD
Milton Keynes, England
THE GREAT NEIGHBOURHOOD AWARD
Byker, Newcastle, England*
Golden Lane Estate, London, England
Smithfield, Dublin, Ireland
THE GREAT STREET AWARD
High Street, North Berwick, Scotland
Humber Street Fruit Market, Hull, England*
Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham, England
THE GREAT PLACE AWARD
Brunswick Centre, London, England*
Gaol Ferry Steps, Bristol, England
Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff, Wales
About the Awards:
The Academy of Urbanism Awards are in their 12th year and recognise the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments. They have visited, assessed and celebrated 150 outstanding examples of good urbanism across the UK, Ireland and Europe and now Corby is on the list.
The Academy shortlists 50 places across five categories, which are voted down to three finalists in each category by Academy members. The Academy then visits and assesses each of the 15 finalists before the final vote. For more information about the Academy of Urbanism Awards please go www.academyofurbanism.org.uk/awards/
About the Academy:
The Academy of Urbanism brings together thinkers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of our villages, towns and cities across Great Britain, Ireland and Europe.
The Academy was formed to extend urban discourse beyond built environment professionals, and to create an autonomous, politically independent and self-funded learned voice.
It recognises, promotes and learns from great places. For more information about the Academy, visit: www.academyofurbanism.org.uk.