Best in Region
Joint Winners - Salford City Council & RHS Bridgewater, submitted by Barton Willmore now Stantec
The judges found the work and transformations being undertaken in Salford, both by the local planning authority and by developers of projects such as RHS Garden Bridgewater, as truly remarkable. The judges felt it far too difficult to separate the two winners.
RHS Garden Bridgewater, submitted by Barton Willmore now Stantec
In planning terms, the site of RHS Garden Bridgewater presented significant challenges, presenting challenging policy and technical constraints. Yet its fascinating heritage, resultant physical qualities and location make it eminently suitable. The delivery of the garden was realised because of a strong vision and masterplan, a successful delivery partnership between the RHS, Salford City Council and Peel L&P, and a planning strategy that brought engagement and community benefits to the forefront of the process.
The judges commented:
The judges were overwhelmed by the transformation needed to create RHS Bridgewater; taking a neglected garden of a former country house (Worsley New Hall demolished in the 1940s), which had been used as a small commercial nursery located in the Green Belt – to a national visitors attraction. The quality of the new build visitor centre, repair of former walled garden, conservation of the on-site listed buildings and creation of a reimagined landscape are of the highest quality.
The scheme enhances the health and wellbeing of the users and wider area, encouraging growing of food and healthy eating. Throughout, there continues to be fantastic engagement with local people bringing back into use a site for significant public benefit – with the added benefit of Salford free Tuesdays where local people could enter for free while the garden was being established. The submission also demonstrates working with children, schools, residents and the RHS school of gardening – during the scheme development and in the post-completion legacy phase. And the accessibility and links with public transport are commendable.
The scheme highlights how a planner lead team in the application process were multi-faceted and significant to its success. This was supported by a pre application engagement strategy, an example of a collaborative approach and partnership working with the City Council and Peel L&P.
The scheme demonstrates a number of mitigating actions to assist with climate change and the development has secured the future of the heritage assets within the complex.
Overall, the scheme displays the highest levels of community engagement, leadership and team working, with the incorporation of sustainable design which have proved fundamental to the success of the delivery of the scheme. The scheme showcases the importance of proactive planning and development within the north-west region and has created an asset for the people of Salford and wider Greater Manchester, and wider nationally. A truly remarkable winner of this category and worthy of the Joint Best in Region award. Congratulations to all involved and we wish you the very best of luck at the national awards.
Salford City Council - WINNER
Salford has seen huge investment in new homes, businesses, infrastructure and public realm. The delivery of major projects such as MediaCityUK, Greengate and the revitalization of road and riverside corridors has transformed large areas of Salford and had a significant impact on the City’s economy and profile. Team Salford are bold, brave, and passionate about creating a better and fairer Salford for all. They have a strong appetite to be the best and have worked tirelessly to capitalise on the investment for the benefit of its communities. They have not stood still and continue to push forward and be innovative.
The judges commented:
The judges were delighted to review the entry from Salford City Council this year. There was a strong written submission, which scored very well against each of the criteria.
However, the judges were impressed with the presentation, which was excellent, and it was great to meet so many inspiring and enthusiastic planners. Salford have clearly overcome significant change and uncertainty since the re-integration of staff post the Urban Vision joint venture, while successfully navigating the pandemic. They are at the cutting edge of forward thinking, and are applying commercial expertise and innovation to their public sector roots to proactively deliver an all-round excellent and efficient local planning authority service. The sheer range of initiatives that they are taking across their Development Management and Spatial Planning teams is phenomenal.
There is a clear demonstration of team working and evidence of going above and beyond; putting in extra time to improve the service for customers (as evidenced by excellent feedback) as well as the development and wellbeing of staff to build a good team dynamic. Social value is taken seriously and having a broad diverse workforce assists with understanding wider needs and supporting the overarching Council vision.
Overall, Salford acts as a good example of how a close-knit, well managed and motivated planning team can achieve their goals and set the standard for others to follow. They overcome issues with forward thinking and have been recognised as a leading value for money planning service. The RTPI would be delighted for Salford to share their experiences and approaches with other local planning authorities, as there is some truly remarkable work being done (including use of Artificial Intelligence, for example) and as such, they should be heralded as a beacon of success. A truly remarkable winner of this category and worthy of the Joint Best in Region award. Well done Salford and we wish you the very best of luck at the national awards.