Sunderland's Life Kitchen wins top award after transforming run-down Mowbray Park building into cookery school for cancer sufferers

A Grade-II listed building used to give free cookery lessons to cancer sufferers has won a prestigious planning award.

Sunday, 13th October 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 8:02 pm
Ryan Riley is "thrilled" with the Life Kitchen's planning award.

The Lodge, a council-owned 1856 premises, was named overall winner at the 2019 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North East Regional Awards for Planning Excellence.

It had been a run-down building in the grounds of Mowbray Park before being transformed by not-for-profit organisation Life Kitchen. It was officially opened in June by TV chef Nigella Lawson.

The award was collected by planning consultants Lichfields who liaised with Sunderland City Council. But over 50 different organisations helped on the project – free of charge.

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Nigella Lawson with Sunderland chef Ryan Riley at his award winning Life Kitchen.

Life Kitchen founder Ryan Riley is delighted with the award.

He said: “The building has been brought to life. I’m really thrilled for Lichfields, Sunderland City Council and everyone who contributed. The council’s planning department was really instrumental in this.

“We’d always wanted a permanent building in Sunderland. We were shown a few places that were totally unsuitable. Then I was shown The Lodge and straight away I could picture how it would be used.

“It’s right in the middle of Sunderland, but it could be anywhere. I’m really proud to use that building.”

Sunderland chef Ryan Riley's Life Kitchen charity business for cancer patients

Chair of the RTPI judging panel, Sam Thistlethwaite, said: “Life Kitchen at The Lodge turned a vacant and run-down listed building into a nationally significant project within Mowbray Park in Sunderland. It won high praise from all of the judges that assessed it.

“The scheme represents the UK’s first permanent base for a building that aims to cater for the needs of cancer patients and their families by providing free cookery classes that are accessible to all.

“The judges were agreed that the Life Kitchen at The Lodge is an accessible, sustainable space of exceptional quality at the centre of the community.”