The entry deadline for the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Awards 2011 is nearly here. Submissions for project awards and all but one of the people awards must be sent in by 31 May - less than four weeks away.
The only exception is the Student Award for Outstanding Achievement in Planning Education, for which entries will be accepted until 15 July, to take account of the academic year.
The criteria for the awards, which have celebrated excellence in town and country planning since 1978, have been updated to reflect the changing political and financial environment within which planners operate. Following chancellor George Osborne's Budget announcement that a presumption in favour of sustainable development would be introduced into the planning system, it has become clear that the Government wishes planning to play a greater role in encouraging economic growth. Reflecting this development, the 2011 awards feature a new category - Planning for Business.
What's more, with all eyes now firmly on neighbourhood-level planning as the Localism Bill works its way ever closer to the statute books, the criteria for all project awards have been adapted to take account of community engagement. The criteria for each of the awards have also been modified to ensure consideration of diversity and equality issues.
The top prize remains the same, with the Silver Jubilee Cup presented to the group that the RTPI judges to have been responsible for the most outstanding planning achievement of the previous year. Earlier this year, the cup was awarded to the Great Fen masterplan, a project that set out to transform arable farmland into a nationally important nature conservation site that also provides recreation opportunities and protection from flooding in the east of England.
Steve Ingram, head of planning at Huntingdonshire District Council, a member of the partnership that won the prize, said the awards show that there is a "huge breadth and scope of things still going on out there - even in these difficult times - and there are a lot of fantastic things being achieved".
Reflecting more broadly on what the awards mean to the sector, RTPI president Richard Summers says: "The annual RTPI Awards set a benchmark of excellence to encourage best practice and reward outstanding achievement. The awards recognise pioneering and innovative work throughout the UK and highlight the diversity of those achievements. The results showcase exemplary plans and projects that will inspire current and future planners."
All award winners will be announced at a ceremony in February next year.
For further information, please visit www.rtpiplanningawards.com.
The 2011 categories
City and Metropolitan Areas
Local Regeneration and Renewal
Rural Areas and the Natural Environment
Heritage Arts Culture Sport
Planning for Business
Planning Consultancy of the Year
Small Planning Consultancy of the Year
Planning Consultant of the Year
Young Planner of the Year
Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Employer Award for Excellence in Learning and Development
Student Award for Outstanding Achievement in Planning Education
There is also an "other" category for project entries that do not readily fall into the above categories. Judges may identify categories for special awards once they have reviewed all entries.