A GRAND redesign and the ambitious renovation of two theatre houses have put the North-East on the map.

The refurbishment, remodelling and extension of the Grade II listed Edwardian theatre saw the rebirth of the Darlington Hippodrome, alongside its new sister site – The Hullabaloo children’s theatre.

Around £14.3m was invested and shared between the two distinctive buildings off Darlington’s Parkgate, with the revamped Hippodrome re-opening in November last year, quickly followed by The Hullabaloo in December.

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Both projects have now been recognised as part of a national awards scheme to highlight planning excellence that went into the making of Darlington’s newest venues.

The theatres are among a shortlist of 78 finalists from across the UK and one of just five North-East projects making it to the final stage of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards.

The RTPI announced the theatres made the shortlist alongside Durham County Council’s Seaham Harbour Marina Watersports Activity Centre and builds in Newcastle, Sunderland and Northumberland.

Lynda Winstanley, director of Darlington Hippodrome, said: “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from everyone who has come through the doors of the Hippodrome since it opened, and I know the same goes for the Hullabaloo.

“It’s nice to have this recognition formalised by being in the running for this award and it’s a real pleasure to be nominated.”

The awards were created more than four decades ago to celebrate “exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society”.

Winners of this year’s awards will be revealed in a ceremony at The Barbican in London in May.

Ian Cansfield, chair of RTPI North East said: “This year’s awards shortlist is full of outstanding projects and plans.

“They highlight not only the hard work and outstanding contribution planners make to our community, but also the diversity of projects and environments that they work in.

“This is a real mix of projects that are already making a difference around the region, plans for the future and great examples of partnership working.

“It’s great to see so many local projects getting the national recognition they deserve.”