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Biomedical research lab wins RTPI award

Words: Laura Edgar
2017 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence

The Francis Crick Institute has won the RTPI’s Silver Jubilee Cup at the institute’s 2017 Awards for Planning Excellence.

In total, 13 winners were announced during the awards at London’s Milton Court and Concert Hall, including International Award for Planning Excellence and Young Planner of the year, plus the cup.

The Silver Jubilee Cup is then awarded to the entry considered to be the best overall by the judges across all 13 categories.

The Francis Crick Institute, a pioneering research centre in central London, won in the category of Excellence in Planning to Create Economically Successful Places. The Crick is home to 1,500 staff who work in the building’s laboratories, public exhibition, gallery space, an educational space, a 450-seat auditorium and community facility.

The building uses solar panels and combined heat and power to provide low carbon power onsite. The project faced community opposition and overcame a number of planning challenges through a Planning Performance Agreement and strong community engagement from the company’s planners.

The Planning Performance Agreement was the first of its kind for Camden Council. It set objectives and standards for the development, including good architectural design, permeability, open space and plans to ensure the development contributed to tackling local social and economic deprivation.

It also allowed planning and urban design officers from Camden Council and the Greater London Authority to sit alongside the Crick’s own design team to provide direct advice at every key technical meeting.

Every local councillor, and Tenants and Residents Associations, opposed the scheme when it was announced, but in the 18 months leading up to the planning submission, planners held 99 community events to explain the project and seek feedback from the community.

Nick Raynsford, chair of the judging panel, said: “Both the design of the building and the planning environment presented immense challenges. Predominant land use nearby was low-rise residential, there are major Grade 1 listed buildings around, and it is situated in one of the most socio‐economically deprived wards in England. The proposals also came forward against the backdrop of a biological leak at a private laboratory and in a period where security was at the forefront of the local communities’ concerns.

“This project is therefore an outstanding example of the value planners bring to a complex project. Their unique set of skills enabled them to engage with the community and incorporate their feedback. This resulted in clear improvements to the project and benefits for the local community, including a community centre, community garden and apprenticeships for young people, as well as building local support for a project which will potentially deliver a hugely positive economic impact for London and the UK."

The Francis Crick Institute was founded by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Welcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London and King's College London.

The Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area Plan (HSKNDA) has won the International Award for Planning Excellence. Hung Shui Kiu is an area in the western part of the New Territories of Hong Kong and was designated a potential site for a new town in 2003. The HSKNDA has been carried out by the Hong Kong

Government to outline and consult on the details of the implementation arrangements for the project.

The plan includes proposals to provide homes for 218,000 residents, with the development to serve as a regional economic hub.

The awards also saw Luke Coffey named Young Planner of the Year. He is a senior planning consultant at engineering firm Mott MacDonald in Birmingham.

The RTPI’s 2017 Awards for Planning Excellence was sponsored by AECOM and Savills.

The winners of the 2017 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are:


Excellence in Plan Making Practice

Winner: Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan (Scotland)

Submitted by: Marine Scotland

Highly commended: Birmingham Development Plan (England)

Submitted by: Birmingham City Council, Planning and Regeneration

Excellence in Planning to Create Economically Successful Places

Winner: The Francis Crick Institute (London, England)

Submitted by: The Francis Crick Institute (Overall winner of the Silver Jubilee Cup)

Excellence in Planning for the Innovative Delivery of Infrastructure

Winner: East Bank, River Arun, Littlehampton (England)

Submitted by: LDA Design

Excellence in Planning to Deliver Housing

Winner: Carrowbreck Meadow (Norwich, England)

Submitted by: NPS Group

Commended: Stuck Sites (Sheffield, England)

Submitted by: Planning Service, Sheffield City Council

Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment

Winner: Planning and Delivering Green Roofs in the City of London (England)

Submitted by: City of London Corporation

Excellence in Planning for Built Heritage

Winner: The Seamus Heaney Home place (Bellaghy, Northern Ireland)

Submitted by: Mid Ulster District Council

Commended: Saltcoats Town Hall (Scotland)

Submitted by: North Ayrshire Council

Excellence in Planning for Wellbeing

Winner: Place Standard (Scotland)

Submitted by: Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland, Architecture & Design Scotland

Commended: American Express Elite Football Performance Centre (Lancing, England)

Submitted by: DMH Stallard LLP

International Award for Planning Excellence

Winner: From Brown to Green, Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area Planning and Engineering Study (Hong Kong)

Submitted by: Urbis Limited

Small Planning Consultancy of the Year

Winner: Optimis Consulting

Commended: Cundall

Planning Consultancy of the Year

Winner: Indigo Planning

Employer Award of the Year

Winner: Terence O’Rourke

Local Authority Team of the Year

Winner: North East Lincolnshire Council/ Engie Regeneration Partnership

Young Planner of the Year

Winner: Luke Coffey, senior planning consultant, Mott MacDonald


Fran Dance, planner at Arup, integrated city planning team

Kim Boal, planning officer, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council