Why you should enter the Planning Awards

With this year's Planning Awards now open for entry, previous winners describe the benefits of entering.

2017 host the Reverend Richard Coles
2017 host the Reverend Richard Coles

The 2018 Planning Awards, which reward excellence in planning, placemaking and economic development, are open for entry, with five new categories to compete in.

The awards, run by Planning in conjunction with PlacemakingResource, recognise outstanding planning work by councils, consultants, developers, lawyers, voluntary groups and other key players in the UK planning system. As well as professional planning work, the competition also rewards excellence in related activities, such as placemaking, urban design, economic development, housing and regeneration.

The awards team are seeking submissions across 25 categories, covering both planning and placemaking (see below). Awards for plan-making and top local authority planning team, planning consultancy, planning law firm and planning permission are among the planning categories, while the placemaking categories include awards for design excellence, regeneration and promoting economic growth.

Next year's competition includes five new award categories: planning for increased housing delivery, planning for affordable housing, planning for the natural environment, the use of new technology in planning, and placemaking at high densities.

Participants have until 9 February to submit their entries. 

Entries will be judged by an expert panel, with awards presented at a prestigious central London ceremony and publicised in a special report in Planning and on PlanningResource.

In evaluating submissions, the judging panel will be looking for evidence that entries 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, plus other category-specific criteria.

Last year's winners say that entering the Planning Awards helped them to reflect on and review their work, while attending the ceremony provided useful networking opportunities. Winning, they add, raised the profile of their team and provided a morale boost to staff.

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council won the award for promoting economic growth for road project the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme. Chris Hall, the council's senior planning officer, says: "Entering the Planning Awards allowed us the opportunity to reflect on the scale of what we had achieved. By their nature, projects such as this are often broken into smaller parts and so there's not often the chance to sit back and look at things holistically, but entering the Planning Awards allowed us to appreciate exactly what had been delivered and how it had come together."

Riette Oosthuizen, a partner at consultancy HTA Design, which won planning consultancy of the year, also describes the benefits of compiling an entry to the awards: "As the planning team work with both the design teams within the office and with other external design practices, this is a great way of learning from each other. Pulling our work together for entering the awards is a beneficial exercise as it pulls together the wide efforts from all members of the team."

Digital engagement firm Commonplace won the award for stakeholder engagement in planning, along with partner the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The firm's chief executive officer Mike Saunders says: "Putting together the application was an opportunity to work with our partner, the London Borough of Waltham Forest, to review the successes of the project."

Berkeley Homes' Woodberry Down scheme won two awards, for planning for housing growth and for best housing scheme of 500 homes or more. Rachael Scott, the firm's marketing and communications manager, says: "Winning the awards has provided us with great marketing material which we've used in our promotion online. The wins have also boosted morale and had a positive effect on the team involved on the project, who were reminded of all of their great work.

Stephen Hunt, head of planning and development management at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, which won the plan-making award and the overall editor's award, says: "We were absolutely thrilled and delighted to have won both awards, particularly the editor's award."

The 2018 awards ceremony will take place on 6 June 2018 at Savoy Place in central London, which overlooks the River Thames. For more details and to book your place, click here. 

Award categories

Planning categories

- Award for plan-making

- Award for neighbourhood planning

- Award for infrastructure planning

- NEW Award for planning for increased housing delivery

- NEW Award for planning for affordable housing

- NEW Award for planning for the natural environment

- NEW Award for use of new technology in planning

- Planning law firm of the year

- Planning consultancy of the Year

- Local authority planning team of the year

- Planning permission of the year

- Award for stakeholder engagement in planning

Placemaking categories

- Award for design excellence

- Award for best housing scheme (fewer than 500 homes)

- Award for best housing scheme (500 homes or more)

- Award for promoting economic growth

- Award for best use of arts, culture or sport in placemaking

- Award for best use of heritage in placemaking

- Award for partnership working

- Award for regeneration

- Award for mixed use development

- Award for community-led placemaking

- Best use of publicly-owned land and/or property in placemaking

- Best use of brownfield land in placemaking

- NEW Award for excellence in placemaking at high densities


Stephen Hunt, head of planning and development management at East Riding of Yorkshire Council: "The award is testament to the hard work the team put in to preparing the local plan, which took almost nine years. It's a great achievement, we are really pleased."

Chris Hall, senior planning officer at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council:"The award helped us recognise the value and continued importance of what we do. Accepting the award in front of our peers made our night. It gave the planning team the chance to demonstrate the importance of planning to the project's success."

Riette Oosthuizen, partner at HTA Design: "It has been fantastic for our team morale to win the award. As a small planning practice, we are often up against the much better-known commercial practices, so it has been great for us to say we have won the award in marketing material and in bids."

Kia Trainor, director at CPRE Sussex: "Winning the award has really boosted our morale and cemented the good relationships we have built with external partners working on the project. This award has helped us to gain recognition from outside the organisation. We are hoping that it will support future bids for funding."

Mike Saunders, chief executive offficer of Commonplace: "We were delighted to win. It demonstrated the hard work and partnership that had gone into the project. The award has been valuable to us in terms of new exposure it helped us generate."

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