This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible experience. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this. You can find out more about how we use cookies here. If you would like to know more about cookies, or how you can delete them, click here.

Cycle and walking trail wins top South West planning prize

30 July 2015

South WestpicsThe South West region of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has crowned the Exe Estuary Trail, a cycle and walking route that extends over 16 miles, set within the backdrop of the Exe Estuary on Devon’s south coast, as the overall winner of its Planning Excellence Awards 2015.

The panel of judges were Impressed with the way in which Devon County Council met the key challenge of ensuring the path was sensitive to the environment of the Exe estuary, in particular the bird life. The judges also praised the project’s partnership working approach with the RSPB and Natural England and also with Network Rail, as long stretches of the trail run alongside operational lines.

These place-making projects show how the professionalism, commitment, passion and dedication of planners has achieved some stunning results on the ground.

The result is a unique cycle and walking trail that includes: boardwalks, bridges, culvert construction, lagoons, bird viewing facilities, innovative structures to screen birds and public art through work with the local community. The route connects with several railway stations and cross estuary ferries, providing a variety of opportunities for recreational journeys.

SWestawardsPaul Barnard, Chair of the RTPI South West Region said: 

 “Congratulations to the commended and winning projects which demonstrate the key role planners have played in delivering a wide range of environmental, regeneration and strategic planning initiatives in the south west.  These place-making projects show how the professionalism, commitment, passion and dedication of planners has achieved some stunning results on the ground.”

Photo: Simon Lamb (Parsons Brinckerhoff), Roger North (Parsons Brinckerhoff), Mike Deaton (Devon County Council), Hayley Stokes (Devon County Council), Councillor Stuart Hughes (Cabinet member responsible for Cycling – with the trophy), The Chairman of the Council – Councillor Christine Channon (with the plaque) and obviously Paul Barnard, (Assistant Director, Strategic Planning & Infrastructure, Plymouth City Council (Panel Chair)

Winners were presented with their certificates at Custom House, Exeter Quay.

Overall, eleven submissions were competing for the prestigious awards which were assessed across two categories: a) Schemes on the Ground, (schemes that at March 2015, were totally or virtually complete) and  b) Other Planning Work (strategies, policy documents, action plans).

Schemes on the ground category

Joint winners:

  • Exe Estuary Trail (submitted by Devon County Council)
  • J3 Development, Bristol (submitted by gcp Architects)

Junction 3 comprises 54 homes including flats and houses available as rental and shared ownership, a learning centre / library, community meeting rooms, crèche and 7 commercial workspace units. Previously a haven for antisocial behaviour the scheme has fundamentally transformed this part of the city, creating a new community and safe meeting place and a route across the M32.

PaulBThe judging panel said: Overall, we are very impressed with the planning and implementation of this long derelict site, a fine example of place making and the multi-use of a difficult site. Particularly good are the initiatives to involve the local community at all stages; this integration being clearly seen today in the higher than anticipated use of the library/learning centre and other facilities.

Highly Commended

  • Hanham Hall, South Gloucestershire (submitted by HTA Design LLP)

Other planning work category


  • The Plymouth Plan (submitted by Plymouth City Council)

This was judged a creative approach to the preparation and scope of the Plymouth Plan which is far more than a review of the city’s development plan. The vision established is for a single radical strategic plan for the city, acting also as the City’s strategy for health, children and young people, culture, transport, and the economy. It will replace over 100 existing strategy documents. The panel was also impressed by the extensive range of actions designed to engage the public in the process.

Highly commended:

  • Army Basing programme – Salisbury Plain Masterplan (submitted by WYG Group Planning)
  • Infrastructure led planning  - The Cranbrook Way  (submitted by East Devon District Council)


  • Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy  (submitted by Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council)
  • Green park House redevelopment, Bath (submitted by Bath and NE Somerset Council)

WygThe awards were generously sponsored by WYG.

David Lowin MRTPI, Director of Planning, WYG, said:

"WYG is a consultancy with a significant national planning business. We are honoured and pleased to have been associated with this prestigious completion for many years. The winning scheme, the Exe estuary trail, exemplifies partnership working, tenacity, and considerable successful consultation, to produce an important leisure and tourist facility."