Exceptional examples of planning projects that have succeeded in protecting and enhancing the natural environment will be recognised at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.
Finalists in the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category at this year’s RTPI Awards are:
Natural Capital Approach, submitted by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
The work of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to embed a ‘natural capital approach’ into its spatial development strategy has been shortlisted in the Natural Environment category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The new approach prioritises and identifies strategic opportunities for green infrastructure and for the management, protection and enhancement of green space and natural habitats, and also acts as a consistent measure for achieving environmental net gain from new development.
Omega Warrington, submitted by Miller Developments Limited
The regeneration of RAF Burtonwood, situated just to the north of Warrington town centre, into a sustainable, mixed-use development has been shortlisted in the Natural Environment category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The site is set within a network of landscaped woodland, parkland and wildlife areas, including a 35 acre ‘Green Heart’, and also features a rare example of an underground ‘Pickett-Hamilton’ fort, dating back to the Second World War.
Davagh Dark Sky Park and Observatory, submitted by Mid-Ulster District Council Planning Department
Davagh Dark Sky Park, shortlisted in the Natural Environment category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence, is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, offering a unique, immersive experience based around the rich astronomical and archaeological heritage of the area. Located at the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains, the Park consists of a new visitor centre, observatory, and a network of paths which give visitors a unique opportunity to experience the authentic night sky as rarely viewed without light pollution.
Jersey Integrated Landscape and Seascape Character Assessment, submitted by Government of Jersey
The Government of Jersey has been shortlisted in the Natural Environment category of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for a project, undertaken by Fiona Fyfe Associates, to understand how the island’s unique landscapes and seascapes contribute to its unique sense of place. The final assessment was published in July 2020 and will provide a sound evidence base to enable the development of an appropriate planning policy framework for the management of change in Jersey.
Plymouth Climate Challenge and the Climate Emergency Bonus, submitted by Plymouth City Council
Plymouth City Council has been shortlisted in the Natural Environment category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for its partnership with Crowdfunder UK which offers extra funding of up to £15,000 for local projects which make a tangible contribution to climate action. Since the bonus became available in July 2020, twelve new projects have come forward, covering a range of issues such as rewilding, water conservation, waste minimisation, the marine environment, low carbon energy and the engagement of young people.
South West Rail Resilience Programme, submitted by Network Rail
The South West Rail Resilience Programme was established to identify the best way to avoid a repeat of the events of 2014, when the sea wall between Dawlish and Teignmouth in Devon was breached during a storm, flooding the railway. A new pre-cast 360m concrete sea wall includes a metre-high ‘recurve’ along the top to deflect waves back out into the sea, as well as a widened and improved walkway for the public to enjoy.
Cromhall Wetland, submitted by Wessex Water
Cromhall Wetland in South Gloucestershire, named as a finalist in the Natural Environment category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence, provides a sustainable final stage to the sewage treatment process to reduce phosphorus levels prior to the return into the receiving watercourse. The improved water quality in the area has provided habitat for aquatic flora and fauna, and almost 1,900 trees have been planted along the western boundary of the site to further increase the site’s biodiversity.
The RTPI’s annual Awards for Planning Excellence are the longest-running and most respected in the UK planning industry. The awards celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society not just throughout the UK but internationally.
The climax of the ceremony, which will take place on virtual platform, The Awards Room by Evessio, on 29 April, will be the presentation of the Silver Jubilee Cup, awarded to the project adjudged best overall.
In total, 93 projects, teams and individuals across 15 categories have been selected by the independent judges this year. A new category for this year is Planning Heroes in a Pandemic, recognising the innovative work of planners in response to Covid-19.
The judging panel in 2021 will be chaired by Dyan Currie HonMRTPI, chief planner at Brisbane City Council, Australia and immediate Past President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners.
RTPI President Wei Yang FRTPI said: “For more than 40 years, these prestigious awards have celebrated the exceptional work undertaken by town planners. In the middle of a global pandemic, I believe they are more relevant than ever before as we showcase the very best of our profession from all the RTPI’s regions and nations and from countries around the world.
“I am particularly pleased to see this year a new category has been created to recognise the incredible commitment and dedication of planners who have risen to the challenge of responding to the impacts of Covid-19 on the planning system.
“I wish all the finalists the very best of luck at the ceremony.”
Sarah Elliott MRTPI, UK&I Town Planning Lead for Buildings and Places at headline sponsor AECOM, said: “AECOM is proud to once again be a headline sponsor of this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The finalists are a diverse mixture of outstanding examples of planning, including new responses driven by the pandemic and climate change. Once again this demonstrates the breadth of the impact the profession has on quality place making and delivery in the built environment, alongside our resilience to evolve and adapt.”