A PRESTIGIOUS prize has been awarded to the Reading Abbey Quarter project following the site's successful restoration.

The 900-year-old ruins and surrounding area was recognised with a South East Award for Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture by the Royal Planning Institute (RPI).

The Reading Abbey Revealed project saw more than £3m invested to preserve the site for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Judges were particularly impressed by the way heritage inspired positive change, seeing the Abbey Quarter as 'the heart of the town's cultural renaissance'.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of the council, said: "I am delighted by this well-deserved planning accolade for the Reading Abbey Quarter Project.

"In the Abbey Quarter, Reading boasts a site of national significance which has now been preserved for future generations to appreciate.

“This project is an excellent example of an ambitious planning vision for heritage and culture made reality. I would like to say a huge thank you to all those involved in making this award winning project a success.”

Thousands of people descended on the ruins in the summer for the much-anticipated reopening.

The project to restore the town's landmark was made possible after the council secured a £1.77m grant through the National Lottery and Heritage Lottery funding pot.

Sue Percy, chair of the judging panel, added: “The planners at Reading Borough Council saw heritage as a catalyst for social change in the city centre.

"Through their vision, the Reading Abbey ruins and Gateway have been transformed into the Abbey Quarter – now a thriving heritage quarter and landmark for locals and tourists alike.

"Planners will continue to reinvigorate places through heritage and culture.”

Specialists from CRL Restoration were appointed as the main contractor responsible for implementing the conservation side of the Reading Abbey Revealed project in January 2017.