The RTPI Regional Awards for Planning Excellence 2019 (kindly sponsored by WYG)
The RTPI North West Awards for Planning Excellence celebrate outstanding projects that demonstrate the power of planning in our region. Entries reflect the diversity of planning achievement, whether in urban or rural areas, large or small in scale. This year’s awards was kindly sponsored by WYG.
We are delighted to announce the overall winner of the NW Awards for Planning Excellence 2019 is:
Arnside & Silverdale AONB Development Plan Document - congratulations!
2019 Category Winners and Judges comments:
Brinnington Regeneration Initiative, submitted by Countryside Properties
The Brinnington Regeneration Initiative has been ongoing since 2009 with the objective of increasing housing choice, and creating a more balanced sustainable community in what as an area ranked within the 5% most deprived areas. Through long-term joint working between Stockport Council and Countryside Properties, a number of planning and political challenges were overcome in order to deliver private dwellings. The success of the housing development was demonstrated by the 98 homes being sold within 12 months, and 87 of these to first-time buyers.
The scheme required permission for the development of land within the Green Belt and Reddish Vale Country Park which was highly contentious and was promoted over six years, from the approval of the Brinnington Masterplan Regeneration Plan in 2011 through to 2015 when a Judicial Review application was defended.
It has delivered not only a high quality residential development, but improvements to the accessibility of the adjacent Country Park and assisted in the delivery of a leisure centre for the wider community. The judges thought that the development team's pride of the scheme shone through at the site visit which is fully justified given the clear integration of the scheme into the community.
Preston Bus Station, submitted by Cassidy + Ashton Group Ltd
Preston Bus Station is an iconic landmark structure which celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year. It is a significant building of imposing character that was designed in the late 60's as an innovative integrated design in a strident modernist style by local architects' practice BDP.
At 170 metres long, the monolithic bus station and car park was saved from demolition and is now a grade II listed heritage asset. The vast scale, poor condition, and its disconnect with the city posed a real challenge for the design team, and it's refurbishment and works to improve the public realm have now transformed the tired looking and unwelcoming facility into a place that now contributes to the functioning, vitality and regeneration of this part of Preston.
Refurbishing the bus station has seen dramatic changes to the apron to provide level access and direct linkages with the centre that were previously an unattractive and dangerous barrier. The improvements and investment in high quality landscaping has ensured that the station is now well and truly integrated with the centre and has seen an increase in footfall and activity.
The judges were particularly impressed with the consultation engagement and commitment to investing in this transport hub along with the quality and level of repair and refurbishment. They noted the success in decluttering the spaces to reinforce the important long internal and external vistas. They also commended the team on the retention, reinstatement and reuse of materials, especially the creative reuse of Iroko timber into benches.
The result is an exemplary project that retains the clarity and purity of the original iconic 60's design yet transforms the visitor experience into one which is safe, legible and connected. Preston Bus Station retains its status as twentieth century modernist classic of national significance.
Arnside & Silverdale AONB Development Plan Document, submitted by South Lakeland DC and Lancaster City Council
The plan, which specifically covers a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the first of its kind to be adopted within the country. It was adopted in March 2019 and was prepared jointly by Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council, collaborating with a range of partners.
The judges were impressed by the plan's positive approach to affordable housing provision, supported by a comprehensive evidence base including a Household Needs Survey Form which was sent to every household within the AONB area. They were also particularly impressed with the Landscape Capacity approach to identifying potential development sites. This approach has helped the plan to achieve the delicate balance of preserving the natural beauty of the area, whilst providing for the specific housing needs of the community.
The plan is an excellent example of joint working and positive planning, which has successfully addressed competing policy objectives at the national and local level. It is an innovative and ground-breaking plan, which showcases a wide range of skills and the high quality of planning work involved in its preparation.
Northern Gateway, Manchester, submittted by Avison Young
The Strategic Regeneration Framework covers a substantial area to the north of Manchester City Centre and Victoria Station. It has been prepared by a team of specialist consultants, led by Avison Young and was commissioned by Manchester City Council, along with Joint Venture Partners the Far East Consortium.
The Framework identifies the potential for around 15,000 new homes within a series of neighbourhoods over a 15-20-year period, along with improved transport links, new employment opportunities, community facilities and new and improved open space.
The judges were impressed with the scale and ambition of the project and its potential to transform the area and address existing problems of deprivation. The judges were also impressed with the bold vision for a new urban park alongside the River Irk leading into the city centre. The Framework is well written and avoids the use of planning 'jargon'. The extensive use of diagrams and illustrations also help to create a more user-friendly document.
The Strategic Regeneration Framework is a good example of a flexible, strategic plan for a large and complex urban area, which provides a strong, transformational vision which should help to attract new public and private investment. Its preparation has had a strong planning focus and has required a wide range of planning and place making skills.
The Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan, submitted by Knutsford Town Council
The adopted Neighbourhood Plan covers the historic town of Knutsford, Cheshire, which had been identified as an area for significant new housing development by the local planning authority. The local project team were supported by planning consultants, Urban Imprint and the Planning Policy team at Cheshire East Council. The plan was described by the examiner as "thorough and well- illustrated", and who commended its contributors.
The judges recognised the strong commitment of the local community and project team, and the wide range of volunteer input into the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan. They were also impressed with the wide range of planning policies within the plan and the clear diagrams which hep to create a more user-friendly document.
The Neighbourhood Plan also includes a specific Knutsford Design Guide, which aims to ensure new developments are locally distinctive and reflect the existing character of the area. However, at this early stage, it is unsure how effectively this new design guidance will be applied through the Development Management process.
It is a good example of a community led plan, which has provided opportunities for engagement and which has helped to raise the awareness and understanding of planning issues across the community.
Green Lake Barns, Aldford, submitted by Cadnant Planning
The aim of this scheme was to provide a hub of services to integrate with and strengthen the already vibrant community at Aldford. There was an immediate requirement to replace the village shop and following a site search a central location was found reusing redundant forestry buildings.
The scheme provides a shop, which stocks an extensive range of convenience goods for residents and visitors together with a café and two commercial units, all of which have already been occupied.
The judges were impressed with the range of facilities provided in the hub and the value of this to residents, some of whom find it difficult to travel. The provision of the café and village square is a convenient meeting place and was especially welcomed by local people. The scheme also improved connectivity from the village hub to the nearby village green and bowling green.
The design and local materials utilised, combined with outstanding craftsmanship have ensured a development that is greatly valued by the village community and in complete harmony with the remainder of this traditional village.
Windermere Jetty, submitted by Lake Distric National Park Authority
Windermere Jetty is the outcome of the redevelopment of the Windermere Steamboat Museum and was once a sand and gravel works. This is a large development in the context of the Lake District National Park located as it is on the shore of Windermere.
The purpose of this facility is to house and display historic boats and establish a world class visitor attraction.
This is a key site in the Windermere Waterfront Programme of the National Park's core strategy which together with other key sites are creating a cohesive and joined up visitor destination. Challenges included the requirement to provide buildings to display historic boats and provide workshops where boats can be restored. The structures had to be sensitively designed, of appropriate scale and following much heart searching over external materials arrived at the innovative solution of pre-patinated copper.
The judges were impressed with the distinctive design and materials of the buildings which have resulted in the creation of a development completely in harmony with its setting on the edge of Windermere, reaching out into the lake by means of a jetty leading from the boathouse. The judges were also impressed with the traditional boat building skills that are being retained and developed at the centre through the use of existing craftsmen and women from the region including Barrow.
Hannah Payne, WSP | Indigo
Whilst the judges were disappointed not to meet you in person, we found your presentation to be very engaging and an excellent example of alternative methods of communication.
We were impressed by the wide variety of planning practice with which you have already been involved. This has largely been on private-sector projects but has covered a range of scale and ses which enabled you to demonstrate very good ability to deal with challenging issues.
Although your involvement with developing planning policy was noted in the written submission, this aspect was less obvious from the presentation which focused more on your success in gaining planning consent for specific projects. We were unable to question your further on this aspect of your experience so the panel suggests that you might think more strategically when choosing the key issues for such a presentation in future: you want to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of your skills and experience.
However, the choice of projects allowed you to clearly demonstrate your enthusiasm for planning and the ability to make a difference to communities and individuals.
You are a very able communicator and evidently enjoy contributing to mentoring and team-building activities, both in your workplace and the wider profession.
The judges were very pleased to see your active involvement with the RTPI having been involved with the RTPI Young Planners and RAC for the past three years. In particular, we recognised your major contribution to the successful RTPI Young Planners conference in 2017.
Going forward, we encourage you to continue your involvement with the RTPI at a more senior level and introduce fresh ideas and activities. We noted your interest in building cross-professional links which is very important today and look forward to hearing of your future success in this area, promoting the RTPI on a wider-stage within the region.