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From public opposition to planning excellence: world-leading biomedical centre wins top planning award

16 June 2017

Sir Francis Crick Institute Silver Jubilee Cup Winner

One of the most complex new buildings in London occupying a sensitive site in King’s Cross surrounded by residential housing, listed buildings and a major transport hub, has taken the top honour at the United Kingdom and Ireland’s most prestigious planning awards.

The Francis Crick Institute, a pioneering biomedial research centre set up through a collaboration of leading universities and research centres, took home the Silver Jubilee Cup at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence held last night in central London.

The Cup is awarded to the project considered to be the best overall across the 13 different categories.

The Crick faced immense opposition from all sides right at the beginning - every local councillor and Tenants and Residents Associations opposed the project when first announced - but it finally succeeded in winning the public over and gaining permission after 18 months of strong community engagement and close collaboration with Camden Council.

Nick Raynsford, Chair of the Judging Panel said:

“Both the design of the building and the planning environment presented immense challenges. Predominant land use nearby was low-rise residential, there are major Grade 1 listed buildings around, and it is situated in one of the most socio‐economically deprived wards in England. The proposals also came forward against the backdrop of a biological leak at a private laboratory and in a period where security was at the forefront of the local communities’ concerns.

“This project is therefore an outstanding example of the value planners bring to a complex project. Their unique set of skills enabled them to engage with the community and incorporate their feedback.  This resulted in clear improvements to the project and benefits for the local community, including a community centre, community garden and apprenticeships for young people, as well as building local support for a project which will potentially deliver a hugely positive economic impact for London and the UK."

In a first of its kind for Camden Council, a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) was agreed with the Crick to set standards for the development in areas such as architectural design, open spaces and contribution to tackling social and economic deprivation in the area.

The PPA allowed Camden Council and the Greater London Authority officers to sit alongside the Crick’s own design team to provide direct advice. Their contribution helped to ensure architectural quality and sustainability targets, including a 17% reduction in CO2 emissions, are achieved.

The Crick also won in the “Excellence in Planning to Create Economically Successful Places” category. 

Category Winners:

Excellence in Plan Making Practice

Winner

Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan (Scotland)

Submitted by: Marine Scotland

Highly Commended

Birmingham Development Plan (England)

Submitted by: Birmingham City Council, Planning and Regeneration

Excellence in Planning to Create Economically Successful Places

Winner

The Francis Crick Institute (London, England)

Submitted by: The Francis Crick Institute

(Overall winner of the Silver Jubilee Cup)

Excellence in Planning for the Innovative Delivery of Infrastructure

Winner

East Bank, River Arun, Littlehampton (England)

Submitted by: LDA Design

Excellence in Planning to Deliver Housing

Winner

Carrowbreck Meadow (Norwich, England)

Submitted by: NPS Group

Commended

Stuck Sites (Sheffield, England)

Submitted by: Planning Service, Sheffield City Council

Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment

Winner

Planning and Delivering Green Roofs in the City of London (England)

Submitted by: The City of London Corporation

Excellence in Planning for Built Heritage

Winner

The Seamus Heaney HomePlace (Bellaghy, Northern Ireland)

Submitted by: Mid Ulster District Council

Commended

Saltcoats Town Hall (Scotland)

Submitted by: North Ayrshire Council

Excellence in Planning for Wellbeing

Winner

Place Standard (Scotland)`   

Submitted by: Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland, Architecture & Design Scotland

Commended

American Express Elite Football Performance Centre (Lancing, England)

Submitted by: DMH Stallard LLP

International Award for Planning Excellence

Winner

From Brown to Green, Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area Planning and Engineering Study (Hong Kong)

Submitted by: Urbis Limited

Small Planning Consultancy of the Year

Winner

Optimis Consulting

Commended

Cundall

Planning Consultancy of the Year

Winner

Indigo Planning

Employer Award of the Year

Winner

Terence O’Rourke

Local Authority Team of the Year

Winner

North East Lincolnshire Council/ Engie Regeneration Partnership

Young Planner of the Year

Winner

Luke Coffey, Senior Planning Consultant, Mott MacDonald

Commended

Fran Dance, Planner at Arup, Integrated City Planning Team

Kim Boal, Planning Officer, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

All the details are available in the Awards brochure

View photos from the night on Flickr

Read how it unfolded on Twitter #RTPIAwards

The RTPI’s Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for over 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society. This year saw a nearly 40% increase in entrants and the judges shortlisted 90 finalists across 13 categories.

Headline sponsors

Andrew Jones, Practice Leader Design, Planning + Economics at AECOM said:

“AECOM is proud to be a headline sponsor once again of the RTPI’s Awards for Planning Excellence. Those recognised tonight illustrate the best of the planning profession and demonstrate the impact we have on quality and delivery in every area of the built environment.  On behalf of AECOM I would like to extend our congratulations to all of the commendations and winners.”

David Jackson, Head of Planning, Savills said:

“Savills is delighted to be a headline sponsor of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The winners this year reflect the positive impact planning has on our communities across the UK, Ireland and internationally through projects, plans and people. I’d like to congratulate all of those short-listed for awards and the category winners on behalf of the team at Savills.”

The RTPI thanks the panel of 47 judges for their time and dedication to the Awards. The record number of high quality of finalists this year made selecting the winners challenging and the RTPI and judges are grateful for the time and effort put into Awards submission.

The RTPI is grateful to the following sponsors and supports of this year's Awards.

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Small Planning Consultancy of the Year 

Excellence in Planning for Heritage 

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Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment

Planning Consultancy of the Year

Excellence in Planning to Deliver Housing

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Young Planner of the Year

Local Authority Team of the Year

Excellence in Plan Making Practice

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International Award for Planning Excellence

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