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World class rail project scores top UK planning prize

05 February 2009

Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL): High Speed 1 has won the Royal Town Planning Institute's Silver Jubilee Cup, the top prize in planning, at the 2008 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Awards. Iain Wright MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government presented the award at a ceremony in London earlier today. CTRL scooped the award from a wide array of nationally significant planning projects and is recognised as a shining example of how planners should deliver major infrastructure.

Iain Wright MP said: \"Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1 is an exceptional example of how government, local government and the private sector can work together to make a large planning project a major success. In recent years the planning system has become more robust and transparent, as seen with the passing of the Planning Bill and by giving this award the Royal Town Planning Institute is recognising how planning is delivering real results and will continue to do so.\"

RTPI President Martin Willey said: \"Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1 is a deserving winner of the RTPI Planning Award's Silver Jubilee Cup, the highest planning accolade in the country. The project successfully demonstrates how to deliver major infrastructure on time and on budget which will result in substantial economic benefits for the UK.\"

RTPI Planning Awards chief judge Chris Shepley said: \"Although it was extremely difficult to reach a final decision, with several potential Silver Jubilee Cup winners in contention, the judges were in unison awarding the Cup to Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1. The project is unique on two different levels which stood out when deciding a winner: it clearly serves as an outstanding model for other projects of its type and shows that major infrastructure projects can be delivered through the planning system quickly.\"

A précis from the judges' report on Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1 is available below. The Silver Jubilee Cup winner also won two further awards in the 'Built Heritage' category and the newly announced 'Infrastructure' category.

Précis of the Judges report:
\"CHANNEL TUNNEL RAIL LINK : HIGH SPEED 1\"
Submitted by Channel Tunnel Rail Link Planning Forum

The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now known as High Speed One) is one of the larger projects submitted for an award and it has many important planning features.

The nature of the scheme itself will be well known. The rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel was opened in November 2007, on time and on budget, after a long history of debate and discussion about possible routes, financial arrangements, and strategy. The route was agreed in 1993, and a Hybrid Bill procedure took the process through Parliament in two years, during which those with concerns about the project had the opportunity to address the Select Committee. The new 109 km line was built in two sections and runs from Cheriton in Kent to St Pancras in London.

There are several aspects of the project which impressed the judges (leaving aside the heritage issues which are the subject of a separate entry).

The first was the extent to which public consultation and involvement had been developed along the route. This took place against a background of opposition over a long period. Clearly lessons had been learned from the previous attempts to find an acceptable route. There are so many examples of this that it is hard to summarise but one which was described to us was the way in which residents around St Pancras station itself had been brought into, and had influenced, decision making. We were impressed by the level of engagement which had taken place and though a project of this immense scale can never be without controversy it is clear that everything possible was done to accommodate people's concerns.

The second was the high degree of partnership working between the developers and the other stakeholders – notably the 25 Local Authorities along the route. The CTRL Planning Forum was instrumental in ensuring that this happened. Government, local government, and the private sector clearly worked hard to make this project a success.

The third concerned the regeneration benefits of the route. The entry from the Forum did not include the strategic planning work which had taken place in arriving at the route; it concentrated on the planning achievement of delivering the project. But nonetheless the planning which went into the final decision making was crucial and made it possible to realise significant regeneration benefits in the Thames Corridor and North Kent. The existence of the CTRL was clearly a factor in the UK winning the Olympic Games in 2012.

The fourth was the way in which the line has been designed to limit and avoid impacts on settlements and individuals and to fit as comfortably as possible within the landscape. Much of the route followed existing public transport corridors, with 25 km in tunnels, but there were many sensitive problems to be resolved in accommodating this major piece of infrastructure within the fine countryside through which much of it runs.

Fifth, linked to this, is the environmental sensitivity of the work – in terms, for example, of the code of construction practice, the spoil disposal strategy, the measures to mitigate noise, the wildlife habitat creation, and so on. This involved applying the concept of \"NEWT\" so that the (inevitable) changes should be \"Not Environmentally Worse Than\" the baseline design assessed in the Environmental Statement.

Two other things are clear. The first is that the CTRL serves as a model for other projects of its type. Many of the arrangements which were made are being followed, for example, in Crossrail. The consultation and engagement techniques, the planning structure, design innovation and partnership approach are all suitable for use elsewhere.

The second is that major infrastructure projects CAN be delivered. Although there had been false starts and considerable dispute about the line during the previous two decades, the eventual process for agreeing the route, hearing objections, then developing the two sections of the route was impressive. This is not just a major engineering achievement; it is a major planning achievement too. The strategic thinking, the complexity of the process (over 2000 planning applications were submitted for the two lines), the thoroughness of the consultation process, the delivery of the project on time, and the vast bundle of environmental, heritage, landscape, financial and technical issues involved make this unique (at present – it is to be hoped that other similar projects will follow in the years to come and that the lessons learned from this one will be applied).

For these reasons we have given the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (High Speed One) an Award in the Infrastructure category.

We have also decided that this project should be awarded the Silver Jubilee Cup.

A list of all winners and commendations is included below.

RTPI PLANNING AWARDS 2008

SILVER JUBILEE CUP
\"Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1\" Submitted by Channel Tunnel Rail Link Planning Forum

Sustainable Communities

Award: \"The Preparation and Implementation of the Planning Scheme for the Adamstown Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) \"
Submitted by South Dublin County Council

Award: \"Taking Planning out of Policy and into the Community\"
Submitted by Hambleton District Council

City and Metropolitan Areas

Award: \"Liverpool One (The Paradise Project)\"
Submitted by Liverpool City Council

Award: \"Media City UK\"
Submitted by S Wright Ltd

Commendation: \"Princesshay Exeter\"
Submitted by Exeter City Council

Town Regeneration

Commendation: \"Pembroke Dock Regeneration\"
Submitted by Pembrokeshire County Council

Rural Areas and the Natural Environment

Award: \"The Carrick Golf Resort, Loch Lomond\"
Submitted by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

Award: \"Rural Planning Facilitation Service\"
Submitted by Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency

Heritage

Award: \"Heritage and Archaeology on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link\"
Submitted by CTRL Project

Arts Culture and Sport

Award: \"Other People's Photographs, Folkestone\"
Submitted by Strange Cargo

Climate Change

Commendation: \"Delivering Sustainable Energy and Biodiversity
Enhancement in Tower Hamlets\"
Submitted by London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Spatial Strategies

Commendation: \"Urban Design Framework for Stratford upon Avon\"
Submitted by Stratford on Avon District Council

Planning Process

Award: \"Your Place, Your Future\"
Submitted by Plymouth City Council

Award: \"Manual for Streets\"
Submitted by Tribal Urban Studio

Commendation: \"Creating a state of the art planning service for the New Northumberland\"
Submitted by Northumberland Planning Officers' Group

E-government

Award: \"The RSPB Minerals Restoration Potential Project – Creating Nature after Minerals\"
Submitted by RSPB

Commendation: \"Unlawful Advertising and Fly-Posting Database\"
Submitted by Planning Portal

Equality and Diversity

Award: \"Somewhere to Live: a short film about meeting the accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople\"
Submitted by East of England Regional Assembly, 4NW, South East England Regional Assembly and West Midlands Regional Assembly

*Infrastructure
*The judges have decided to introduce a new category for 2008.

Award: \"Channel Tunnel Rail Link: High Speed 1\"
Submitted by Channel Tunnel Rail Link Planning Forum

Commendation: \"Ebbw Valley Railway Project\"
Submitted by Capita Symonds & Blaenau Gwent Borough Council\"

NO AWARD HAS BEEN MADE IN THE RENEWED NEIGHBOURHOOD CATEGORY.

Planning Consultancy of the Year

Small Planning Consultancy of the Year: Strategic Planning

Commendation for Planning Consultancy of the Year: Urban Vision

Planning Consultancy of the Year: Savills

Commendation for Planning Consultant of the Year: Jam Consult

 
Education and Lifelong Learning

Award for Employer Commitment to Lifelong Learning: Planning Inspectorate

Commendation for Employer Commitment to Lifelong Learning: Environment Agency

Award for Excellence in Planning Education: A New Planning School for the West of Scotland

Award for Outstanding Student Achievement in Planning Education: George Weeks - Designing Places

Commendation for Outstanding Student Achievement in Planning Education: Karen Montgomerie

Young Planner of the Year: Tracey Haskins

President's Special Award: Planning Summer School