Excellence in Planning for Communities (small schemes of 50 homes or less) - This category recognises projects which include up to 50 homes. Projects can integrate into the surrounding context, or be a new development in their own right. The projects must meet local needs and be in locations that have access to infrastructure and facilities for communities. They should also offer a range of tenures and demonstrate the high-quality design of buildings and place.
Excellence in Planning for Heritage & Culture - This category recognises projects that have improved or enhanced places with a particular historical or cultural significance, for the benefit of the community and future generations. Submissions can include either existing buildings that have been restored or new developments.
Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy - This category recognises any projects that promote and support a successful prosperous economy. Projects could include minerals planning, industrial, commercial or infrastructure, regeneration schemes or improvements to the public realm.
Excellence in Tech within Planning Practice - This category recognises any projects that have used a new type of technology or used technology in a new or innovative way. We are looking for projects where technology has been crucial to the outcome.
Marple Dale, submitted by P4 Planning Ltd
P4 led the redevelopment of redundant care home buildings within an operational care home site which were surplus to requirements to provide additional housing, that integrated with the care home. The buildings, originally constructed as a TB hospital in the 1920s, had been closed and lain vacant for some time, although the newer care home buildings were to remain operational. P4 advised the care operator on the development potential for the vacant buildings and surrounding land which is located within the Green Belt and then achieved consent for the successful developer, Seddon Homes.
The judges commented:
This is a site which clearly has a complicated and constrained planning context, but the skill and tenacity of the planning consultants to help shape a successful (and integrated) new residential development is clear. The site’s location, in the Green Belt offers challenges, but couple this with the requirements of the adjacent nursing home - including a need to retain 24 hour access – and the necessity for detailed negotiations with several adjacent property owners of a private access route, meant that this scheme is an exemplar of where detail counts. It was clearly not a one-size-fits-all approach.
P4 Planning advised throughout the process, from land assembly and sale, through to working with Seddon Homes to achieve the very highest quality scheme. It is clear from speaking with those involved in the process, that open and continuous dialogue with local people and the care home was fundamental to ensuring this small scheme was developed effectively. That is not to say that there was not resistance to the scheme, but the planning process allowed for the developer and their planning consultants to work with the community in a very personal and proactive way (well beyond the statutory minima) to overcome objection and concerns.
The judges’ site visit showcased the scheme’s quality with eight different house types and well-designed public realm and spaces exhibits. The eventual package of measures, including new access routes and publicly accessible and connected green spaces, were all delivered alongside much needed family homes. The new homes integrate well with the care home and the other neighbouring residential properties. The prime example of this is the refurbishment of the care homes much prized Rose Garden for the enjoyment of both new and existing residents.
This is a scheme that clearly demonstrates the worth of proactive and thoughtful town planning. A worthy winner of this category.
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.
Circle Square Masterplan, submitted by Deloitte LLP
Circle Square is a leading example of successful regeneration of brownfield land. The completed commercial phases are largely fully occupied with a range of businesses from local to multi-national. Circle Square offers the opportunity for businesses to grow organically and take space as appropriate. The largest new green space in the city for a generation, Symphony Park and Gardens enables community wellbeing for residents of the residential phases, and at the same time encourages public interaction with the space.
The judges commented:
This is a very interesting regeneration project which piqued the judge’s attention given the economic, repurposing of a key nexus site, the political context, including the impetus towards the Northern Powerhouse, Levelling Up Agenda and creating a truly successful mixed use residential and commercial development. The site’s context and regeneration stems from the closure of the BBC studios and its demolition in 2014, and the sensitive political decision to move the BBC to MediaCity in Salford. The site was subject to several concepts; however, the scheme today has been delivered through planned intervention that commenced in 2013. This was achieved through solid and resilient town planning approaches that lead to a Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) that created a vision and objectives for the site that was later adopted by MCC. The vision was then taken forward by Bruntwood through concept masterplan in 2015 which was later advocated by MCC and through collaboration and a clear delivery plan has been curated to allow the proposal to be brought to market so successfully.
The panel recognised the bold move by the project team, the LA and owners to reinvent this important gateway site and its purpose, contributing to the renaissance of this area of the city centre. The proposal providing a new residential product (BTR) and unique offer which complements other existing uses but and will define future interventions and regeneration in this important corridor to the regional hub.
The panel were also impressed by the near full occupation of both the residential (BTR and student) quarters and the supporting commercial uses, which add to the vitality and place making of this new neighbourhood. Despite only being completed shortly after the cessation of COVID19 lockdowns in late 2021 the scheme is already a thriving part of the city centre and with future phases planned is a credit to interventionist and plan led spatial planning system. A worthy winner of this category and we wish Deloitte and the wider team the very best of luck at the national awards.
St Cuthbert's Garden Village interactive 360 degree virtual exhibition and promotional video, submitted by Carlisle City Council
Covid required innovative approaches to stakeholder consultation and public engagement. To reduce the impact of the pandemic on the momentum of the regionally significant St Cuthbert’s Garden Village, Carlisle City Council was keen to capitalise on the unique set of in-house Communications Team technology skills to explore engagement wholly within a digital setting. A dynamic, cost effective, virtual consultation exhibition was created, together with a promotional video. The exhibition has embedded the ‘Start with the Park’ principle at its core, by being set in a stimulating virtual environment, representing actual much loved green space at the heart of St Cuthbert’s.
The judges commented:
St Cuthbert’s is a large garden village proposal (the largest in the north of England), representing a significant southern extension of the city of Carlisle.
Carlisle City Council is preparing a Local Plan for St Cuthbert’s, and a Strategic Design SPD to support it. Progressing such a significant proposal to timescale is important to maintaining community engagement and confidence. The introduction of lockdowns and other Covid restrictions prospectively threatened momentum on both the Local Plan and the SPD, as it made engagement and consultation with the public and other interested parties so much more difficult.
Rather than suspending Plan production as some others did during 2020 into 2021, the City Council decided to maintain progress, which meant investigating the potential to create a virtual public consultation exhibition and promotional video so that the whole process could be undertaken on-line. However, the quoted cost of doing this from industry providers was prohibitive.
The City Council then turned to its small in-house communications team to look at the potential for them to assist. It transpired that one of the team had experience of developing video games as a hobby, and this skill set proved key to be key to the team being able to undertake the task.
The judges were impressed with Carlisle’s determination to find in-house solutions so that Plan and SPD progress could be maintained, and to the way in which to a tight timetable the team stepped up and developed an interesting and usable virtual exhibition and video that successfully engaged the local community in the plan making process on-line. The outcome is that progress on the Local Plan is maintained, and the SPD was able to move towards adoption. A worthy winner of this category.