The 22 September deadline for entries to the inaugural Planning Awards is just days away. So any group or individual who has not yet shared their story of attainment in planning work should act now to do so.
The Planning Awards celebrate outstanding efforts by all kinds of players in the planning system: local authorities, consultants, developers, lawyers, voluntary and neighbourhood groups and others.
The awards are new this year. Last year Planning launched the Placemaking Awards, which recognised excellence in planning as well as other key placemaking disciplines such as economic development, regeneration and housing.
This year we have launched a dedicated awards for the planning profession in the Planning Awards, while continuing to run the separate Placemaking Awards to recognise broader built environment and community building work.
All you need to do is to enter the Planning Awards is to outline your achievements in a few hundred words, and submit your entry to our independent panel of expert judges.
Previous winners of awards run by Planning report that the benefits go well beyond an enjoyable awards evening and a shiny trophy. Recognition brings a boost to the morale of individuals and teams. It promotes the value of your work and enhances your reputation internally and externally.
With 20 awards up for grabs over multiple categories (see box), there is a great opportunity to gain recognition for your work.
The most important criterion is that entries demonstrate how they have improved, or are likely to improve, the physical or environmental quality of a place or the economic or social well-being of a community.
Within that remit, our judges will be looking for entries that show value for money, potential for long-lasting impact, community involvement and clear benefits to local people.
Here’s what some winners of planning categories in last year’s Placemaking Awards say about what the awards experience has meant for them:
Andrew Murdoch, principal planner, Oxford City Council
Award for Development Management Team of the Year 2013
"This award certainly raised the profile of our development management service among our customers, stakeholders and also colleagues – particularly people in the chief executive’s office at the council, senior managers and members.
"We’re often very busy – so doing the application, it was good sitting back and taking a retrospective view of what we’ve done. It helped us realise how the process we undertook was valued; that it really did help deliver schemes that led to many affordable houses being approved – it validated the approach we’d taken.
"On the night of the awards we were completely unaware of what was coming, so it was really surprising to win – even though we thought we did fit the brief. All the other entries were great schemes, really good examples of development management, so it was pleasing to be recognised as we were. The awards night in London was a really good night out – and it helped with morale back in the office.
"The council had a successful year last year, winning quite a few awards – so it was great for us to feel we were being praised as well, right at the top. We went on to be entered for council team of the year – we didn’t win, but we were one of the entries. So it really helped us get some recognition for development management, which we haven’t always had over the years."
Clare San Martin, partner, John Thompson and Partners
Award for Strategic Planning 2013 (for the masterplan for the Chilmington Green garden suburb outside Ashford)
"Pulling together the entry information provided a good opportunity to reflect on what we had achieved over the four years we have worked on the project and to think about the lessons we have learned on the way. In particular we were pleased to have identified the opportunity to adopt garden city principles for Chilmington Green back in 2010 - long before the recent resurgence of the interest in the subject.
"We were absolutely thrilled to win the award. The British Museum was a great venue, which made the evening really memorable. Our clients and the whole design team were very proud and impressed when we won the strategic planning award. I am sure that winning has boosted morale within the office and also led to invitations to speak at conferences and opportunities to tender for work, both in the UK and internationally."
Marco Torquati, senior consultation manager, Westminster City Council (formerly on secondment from the Paddington Development Trust, whose council-backed work was recognised by this award)
Award for Public Participation in Planning (for a project to renew Westminster’s Church Street)
"In some respects the award was a culmination of a lot of years’ work, years of relationship-building and trust. It’s nice to get recognition – for lots of unpaid residents’ organisations and local people to see their work recognised nationally. I brought the award along to a meeting of our steering group, and put it on the table and said: ‘That’s for your work, and for all the work of our predecessors.’ We had a few bottles of bubbly. It was just a low-key reception, but we got nice feedback.
"As well as the recognition, one of the values of the award is that it helps the council to continue to back this kind of work. Particularly in times of austerity, sometimes community engagement can be seen as a bit fluffy and peripheral; whereas I believe, and I think Westminster Council believes, community engagement is actually central to everything it does – because if you don’t get it right, you end up spending more and more money on displeased citizens."
Hilary Satchwell and Jennifer Ross, directors, Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design
Award for Planning Consultancy Team of the Year 2013, sponsored by Cornerstone Barristers
"Putting together an awards submission is a useful process, as it is an opportunity to reflect on what has gone well, what we have achieved and where projects are making a difference. We had some great case studies to use in our submission last year. All of them were about positive engagement with the planning system and all of them involved working closely with the community and key stakeholders.
Hilary Satchwell: "It is one of those things you never really have time to do but it is worth it to gain a valuable external view on the work you have been doing. Projects are always about teamwork and it’s great for team morale to get shortlisted, and especially to win."
Jennifer Ross: "We were really pleased to win an award that reflects that planning is, at least for us, about more than a technical exercise and is right at the heart of making good places."