The grey gloom of early February always lifts a little for those attending the annual London Planning Awards.
Unlike the purgatory participants endure at some industry award events, the London Planning Awards are short, sharp, inspirational and enlivened by the Mayor’s presentation. No matter what the shade of your politics may be, it’s difficult to find Boris boring.
Jointly run by the Mayor and London First, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), and London Councils, these awards were created in 2003 to recognise the projects, people and organisations making London a better place to live.
What’s especially energising is the mix of timelines – from Best Conceptual Project to Best Built Project-Five Years On – these awards are an energising look at what some of the cleverest, most creative and most committed people in property have been up to.
Gensler won this year’s Best Conceptual Project with a fascinating scheme to re-use disused tube tunnels as pedestrian walkways. Using the tunnels between Green Park and Charing Cross Road and between Holborn and Aldwych as examples, Gensler proposes that pedestrians and cyclists would safely move around the city through these underground spaces. Stalls and other commercial and cultural uses would entice people underground and help pay for the project. Perhaps the most visionary element is that power for the network would be generated by kinetic paving systems to make the project self-sustaining.
Since 2013, the 10th anniversary of the award, Edelman has sponsored an award celebrating individual contributors to London’s landscape. The first award, for the Greatest Contribution to Planning and Development over the Last 10 Years went to Sir Terry Farrell.
In 2014, the London Planning Person of the Year award was won – over stiff competition – by Alastair Smart, the Crown Estate’s head of development and project management, for leading the team responsible for the £1.5 billion transformation of a large portion of the West End.
And this year, in a well-deserved accolade, John Turner, Ballymore Group’s long-serving town planning director, responsible for delivering thousands of homes in the capital, was named London Planning and Development Person of the Year, receiving the award from Gurpreet Brar, Managing Director of Edelman’s Public Affairs team.
The projects celebrated this year deserve greater recognition – all of them demonstrating the innovation and high standards expected of London’s planners and developers. Long may London’s renaissance continue.