Planning Awards 2021: top award goes to plan for 10,000 homes on an area released from the green belt

A neighbourhood plan that is designed to guide the building of 10,000 new homes in an area released from the East Hertfordshire green belt has won the top prize at this year’s Planning Awards, announced online in a virtual ceremony this afternoon.

Gilston village

The Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan, submitted as an entry to the awards by Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group with masterplanners URBAN Silence, passed referendum on 27 May 2021.

The plan is designed to guide the building of 10,000 new homes in an area released from the green belt on the edge of Harlow in Essex. The release and the allocation took place when the East Herts District Plan was adopted in 2018.

According to the neighbourhood plan document, locals were prompted to prepare it by concern about the scale of development, and a wish to ensure that green belt release genuinely leads to development of exceptional quality. It contains 21 policies, including for development separation, character and built form.

The judges said the plan was “brave and innovative” and “demonstrates the power of collaboration between local planning authorities and communities”. Overall, they described it as “an exemplar approach to neighbourhood planning for growth”

Organised by Planning magazine and PlacemakingResource, the awards recognised exemplary projects and teams across 24 categories — 13 in placemaking and 11 in planning. The editor’s award is given to the category winner that is seen to be the most outstanding entry of all.

Winners and commendations in the planning categories represent excellence in the field of planning practice. Those in the placemaking categories are exemplars of good practice in planning-related disciplines including regeneration, economic development, housing, law, urban design and stakeholder engagement, as well as planning. Winners were chosen by our expert judging panel, comprising 25 senior figures from across the built environment sector.

The awards are sponsored by Pegasus Group and RPS.

The full list of winners and highly commended schemes announced over the past two days is:


Award for best housing scheme (500 homes or more) (sponsored by Pegasus Group)

WINNER: Great Kneighton, Cambridge, submitted by Countryside

HIGHLY COMMENDED: White City Living, Shepherd’s Bush, submitted by St James Group

Award for best housing scheme (fewer than 500 homes)

WINNER: L&G House, Kingswood, submitted by Avison Young and Haworth Tompkins

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

WINNER: Theatre Square and NW2 participation building, Ipswich, submitted by WGP Architects

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Bonnington Cafe on Thessaly, submitted by Vinci St Modwen

Award for best use of heritage in placemaking

WINNER: Ada Belfield Centre and Belper Library, submitted by Glancy Nicholls Architects and Derbyshire County Council

Award for community-led placemaking 

WINNER: Thames Futures Social Impact Assessment, submitted by Barking Riverside Limited

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Community-owned wind turbine, Avonmouth, submitted by Ambition Lawrence Weston and Womble Bond Dickinson

Award for design excellence

WINNER: Kresen Kernow, submitted by Purcell

Award for fostering a healthy high street

WINNER: Streets for People, Pontefract, submitted by Nash Partnership and Wakefield Council

Award for mixed use development

WINNER: Oval Village, submitted by Berkeley Homes (Central London)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Magna Square, submitted by Runnymede Borough Council and Places for People

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Canada Square Masterplan, submitted by Southwark Council, British Land, and Transport for London

Award for partnership working

WINNER: Merchant Square Community Keeps Blue Space Clean, Paddington, submitted by Merchant Square

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Partnership between Berkeley and the London Wildlife Trust at Kidbrooke Village, submitted by Berkeley Homes East Thames

Award for promoting economic growth

WINNER: Wellcome Genome Campus Expansion, Hinxton, submitted by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ryde Nicholson, Isle of Wight, submitted by RCKa Architects

Award for regeneration

WINNER: The Glass Works, submitted by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Kresen Kernow, submitted by Purcell

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Malt Street, submitted by Berkeley Homes

Best use of brownfield land in placemaking

WINNER: West Green Place, Haringey, submitted by Pocket Living

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

WINNER: TwelveTrees Park, submitted by Berkeley Homes

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Wood Street Families and Homes Hub, submitted by Waltham Forest Council and Haworth Tomkins

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Besson Street, submitted by Maccreanor Lavington


Award for plan-making and the Editor’s Award

WINNER: The Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan, submitted by Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group with URBAN Silence

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Masterplan, submitted by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, SQW, The Retail Group and Urban Movement

Award for planning for affordable housing

WINNER: Bancroft Estate, submitted by Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Friary Park, submitted by Mount Anvil and Catalyst

Award for planning for increased housing delivery

WINNER: Housing delivery in Greater Cambridge, submitted by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Antony and Roderick Houses, Southwark, submitted by HTA Design and Apex Airspace

Award for planning for the natural environment

WINNER: Warblington Farm nature reserve and Havant Borough Council’s Mitigation Plan for Nutrient Neutral Development, submitted by Havant Borough Council

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Berkeley Group Net Biodiversity Gain Toolkit, submitted by Berkeley Group

Award for stakeholder engagement in planning (plan-making or pre-application)

WINNER: Shaping the heart of Nottingham Waterside – Trent Basin, submitted by Blueprint and Deetu

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Manchester Town Hall, submitted by Purcell Architecture on behalf of Our Town Hall

Award for stakeholder engagement in planning (planning applications)

WINNER: The Bermondsey Project, submitted by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland

Award for use of digital technology in planning

WINNER: Connecting Leeds – Covid Active Travel Response, submitted by Commonplace

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Complex City: London’s Changing Character, submitted by Allies and Morrison

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Virtual planning team, submitted by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council

Award for local planning authority achievement (in association with the Planning Officers Society)

WINNER: Harlow District Council

Planning consultancy of the year

WINNER: Inner Circle Consulting

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Arcus Consultancy Services

Planning law firm of the year (sponsored by RPS)

WINNER: Ashurst

Planning permission of the year

WINNER: Canada Water Masterplan, submitted by Southwark Council, British Land and Transport for London

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Snowdonia Visual Impact Provision, submitted by National Grid


Messages from the sponsors

Messages from the sponsors


Pegasus Group

Pegasus Group is a leading national development consultancy specialising in planning, design, environment, economics and heritage. We have more than 300 skilled and experienced staff operating from 14 offices who work in collaboration with our clients to provide bespoke solutions focusing on delivering successful outcomes and maximising value. We combine local and national knowledge of the property and development industry to provide an unrivalled understanding of what is required to make schemes successful.


RPS Group

RPS is a leading multidisciplinary consultancy with the expertise to support developers, investors, landowners and providers of infrastructure through the development process, from planning to design to implementation.


The judges

  • Paul Barnard, service director for strategic planning and infrastructure, Plymouth City Council
  • Lucy Bird, planning director, Berkeley Homes
  • Paul Brocklehurst, chairman, Land Promoters & Developers Federation (LPDF)
  • Isaac Carter, senior solicitor, Westminster City Council
  • Darryl Chen, partner and head of urban design and masterplanning, Hawkins\Brown
  • Sarah Featherstone, director, Featherstone Young
  • Richard Garlick, editor, Planning (chair)
  • Cathy Hall, planning director, Stantec
  • Tom Higginson, director of planning, Network Rail
  • Tracy Lovejoy, service director for strategic planning and infrastructure, Plymouth City Council
  • Amit Malhotra, planning director, Telford Homes
  • Jonathan Manns, board director and head of planning and development, Rockwell
  • Simon Marsh, head of nature protection, RSPB
  • Duncan McCallum, strategy and listing director, Historic England
  • Janice Morphet, visiting professor, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL
  • Nicky Parsons, executive director, Pegasus Group
  • Steve Quartermain, Quartermain Ltd
  • Catriona Riddell, director, Catriona Riddell & Associates
  • Anna Rose, head of the Planning Advisory Service, Local Government Association
  • Nissa Shahid, senior urbanist, Connected Places Catapult
  • Mark Skilbeck, UK planning director, Taylor Wimpey
  • Sam Stafford, regional strategic land director, Barratt Homes
  • Sripriya Sudhakar, head of regeneration, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • Deb Upadhyaya, specialist (planning) and board director, Homes England
  • Sara Whelan, group manager, development management and planning, Dacorum Borough Council and policy manager, Planning Officers Society
  • Paul Willmott, managing director planning, RPS