The innovative work of planners in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is to be recognised at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.
Finalists in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at this year’s RTPI Awards are:
Amos Ellis Consulting
The team at planning consultancy AEC has been shortlisted in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for its work on multiple complex projects over the past 12 months, including Brent Cross West, London’s first new railway station for over a decade. AEC adapted quickly to shift their engagement to a virtual format as soon as lockdown started and has since offered socially-distanced site visits and regular online community engagement sessions.
Cheltenham Borough Council
The planning team at Cheltenham Borough Council has been named as a finalist in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for a range of proactive approaches which have helped the survival of local businesses and organisations. Among the team’s innovative initiatives has been a scheme to allow and fast-track the erection of temporary buildings and structures, creating more space for businesses to accommodate social distancing and safer operations.
Land Use Consultants
LUC has been shortlisted in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for its work to allow projects to progress with meaningful and constructive input from key stakeholders and local communities, despite lockdown. Customisable virtual consultation rooms gave the public vital opportunities to interact with graphics, video content and interactive maps, while online consultation ‘hubs’ housed curated sets of project information that could be easily updated.
The team at the Planning Inspectorate has been named as a finalist in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for its work to shift all appeal and infrastructure hearings and plan examinations across England to virtual delivery. With input from key stakeholders, the team rapidly developed a viable option for holding public events across all casework areas remotely, using digital platforms with a telephone dial-in option to facilitate universal access.
Michelle Simpson-Gallego, an Associate Planner at consultancy Pegasus Group, has been named as a finalist in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for her work to track and report on the response of Local Planning Authorities across England and Wales to the pandemic. The project demonstrated the willingness of a significant proportion of councils to embrace change and new ways of working.
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
The planning team at Barnsley Council have been shortlisted in the Planning Heroes in a Pandemic category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for their ‘business as usual’ approach to an unprecedented situation. A rapid switch to virtual planning committee meetings was evidence of a real team effort between council officers and elected members and allowed the town to remain open for business throughout lockdown.
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.”