Small Consultancy of the Year
This award recognises the achievements of small planning consultancies, independent consultants and sole practitioners.
The Urban Imprint team have worked hard over the last decade to create a multidisciplinary practice with an exceptionally diverse portfolio and a varied base of regular clients. Their personable approach encourages effective engagement with the planning system at all levels, with inclusive and representative results. The company propagates a culture of collaborative working and flexibility to support the needs of staff to encourage them to be the best version of themselves through training and the exploration of personal interests. Overall, Urban Imprint intend all work to be based on a commitment to providing quality advice through integrity and care.
The judges commented:
It is very clear from the submissions to this award category this year that there are some excellent small planning consultancies operating in the North-West of England, and so selecting a “winner” was a challenge for the judges. That winner had to have something extra special.
That category winner is Urban Imprint. It is a small consultancy with a team of five, including three planners and one student planner, operating at the interface between planning and urban design. The range of work the consultancy undertakes is extremely varied, and their interaction with other professionals is exemplary. There was strong evidence of client satisfaction, and of commitment to supporting communities through the maze of professional jargon and technical complexity. We also saw strong commitment to educating the next generation of planners through links with the universities and the RTPI.
The consultancy is celebrating its tenth year, and it was very clear that its success is founded on strong teamwork, a culture that is supportive and inclusive, and real enthusiasm for the job of planning and place-making. It is a worthy winner of this category award and we wish them the very best of luck at the national awards.
Hive is a consultancy that reflects our individual personalities; approachable, with a ‘can-do’ attitude and a firmly held belief that the sum of all of our efforts is better through partnership and collaboration.
Hive offers a planning and surveying consultancy service and the team has experience of working for both public and private sector clients on a variety of development-related instructions across most sectors including Residential (both strategic and immediate land), Industrial & Logistics, Office, Energy, Retail & Leisure, Corporate and Mixed-Use schemes.
The judges commented:
It was a privilege for the Panel to meet and read about the very successful story of Hive’s organic growth in just four years since their inception in 2017. Hive have grown from a team of two to seven with relative ease. In such a short time scale, Hive have become a recognised and serial award winning consultancy practice.
The consultancy’s breadth of diverse projects and delivery in such a short timescale can only be envied from those in more established consultancies. The delivery of major regeneration and masterplanning schemes across the NW region and beyond is testimony to the ‘can do’ attitude engrained in the business and its people.
The company’s success is in part stemmed and reflective of the personalities and ambitions of the team and there is an unequivocal spirit within its people, which is refreshing to see, and helps foster that approachable, ‘can do’ attitude.
What was more impressive to the Panel is that this success has been achieved in arguably one of the most acute economic periods in the Global and UK economy, when the first two years of any new business is the more challenging period to survive. In this context Hive have excelled not just in providing professional excellence, but also had time to provide increased social value, thought leadership and a commitment in reinvesting in the wider community and this is wholly commendable. The investment in their people team is also testimony to the leadership and ethos of the business.
The panel will continue with much interest to watch Hive further grow into a key player in the NW property and planning sector, and their continued commitment to planning and delivery of development across the NW is recognised and commendable.
Whilst this was a tightly contested category this year, we would like to highly commend Hive’s achievements, and wish them continued success in the future.
RJP has a close-knit planning team who focus on providing clear advice, working collaboratively, building strategies and securing planning consents to help achieve brilliant places.
They’re known for their expertise in infrastructure planning, advising government and large organisations on planning strategies and implications for programme delivery. They advise on complex projects large and small, and love nothing more than bringing clarity and simplicity to seemingly complex schemes.
Their mantra in life is that you never stop learning. It’s an ethos that means they’re continually improving their knowledge and skills, to be able to better serve their clients and the community.
The judges commented:
Ruth Jackson Planning’s work has been very impressive. Despite being a small consultancy, they have received glowing testimonials from several nationally significant organisations, including the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Merseyrail.
The rail projects particularly demonstrated RJP’s outstanding ability to deliver within a multi-disciplinary environment and across multiple local authority areas. Consequently, it did not surprise the judges to hear that RJP’s technical excellence and clear communication in this niche field often resulted in them being the wider project team’s ‘problem solvers’.
RJP were keen to stress however that they are not just “railway planners”. They clearly have a wide range of expertise (including greenbelt). They also strongly believe in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and developing their staff. This was demonstrated particularly by their recruitment of (paid!) students and an apprentice. Two of RJP’s students have since gone on to become valued members of the team.Clearly believing in the value of consultation, they have also authored a briefing note at the request of a community group (‘Little Linton’) to assist them understanding the Greater Cambridge Local Plan. Without instruction, RJP even submitted representation to the Government objecting to NPPF para 197’s “retain and explain” approach to monuments. The representation clearly demonstrates that RJP acts on its ethical values. It is also an inspiration to other consultancies they do not necessarily need instruction to voice opinion on planning issues they feel strongly about.
Whilst this was a tightly contested category this year, we would like to highly commend RJP’s achievements, and wish them continued success in the future. RJP are not just “railway planners”, but they are going places.