Chelmsford team win 
two planning oscars

Bidwells Chelmsford Planning Team has won two RTPI Planning Excellence Awards which celebrates the positive contribution that planners and planning make to society.

The first award was won alongside architects Pollard Thomas Edwards for the RTPI East of England Regional Award 2016 for Excellence in Planning to Deliver Housing for their entry of Genesis Housing Association's City Park West development in central Chelmsford.

The second award was part of a multi-disciplinary consultancy which the RTPI South East Regional Award winner for Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment Award for the innovative Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes Kingsbrook scheme in Aylesbury.

Chelmsford City Park West is a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Anglia Ruskin University Central Campus in the centre of the city and includes the restoration of a Grade II listed building and other historic buildings for homes and commercial buildings. Phase 1 is occupied and 2 is underway and comprises 650 flats, flexible retail/business uses and a new public square to frame the retained historic Law and Chancellor buildings.

Michael Hand, RTPI East of England Chair said:

"This entry is an outstanding example of promoting city living and social integration. It demonstrates how a major redevelopment of a historic site can be done in a sustainable way.
The redevelopment of the station square and restoration of the grade 2 listed Quaker Meeting House is impressive. The project has re-invigorated the surrounding area and is providing open space in the city centre."

Bidwells has provided the planning, project management and residential development advice since the project began in 2009.

The Chelmsford team has co-ordinated the planning process from the outset and Ray Houghton, Partner, said:

"We are delighted and honoured to have won this prestigious award and it is in recognition of the professional input of all the teams.
The judging panel praised the faithfulness of the delivery to the approved masterplan and the halo effect the development has had on reinvigorating this central part of the burgeoning new city."

Seumais O’Neill, Head of Portfolio Management at Genesis Housing Association, said:

"We’re delighted that City Park West has won this award in recognition of its high quality design, innovative fusion of old and new architecture and its placemaking impact on its surroundings. The scheme is a great example of partnership working to create a vibrant new community at the heart of Chelmsford, delivering mixed tenure homes alongside public and commercial space."

The Genesis scheme was one of five finalists and these included high profile developments including another Bidwells client the UEA with their Enterprise Centre, Norwich, North-West Cambridge’s Development entered by AECOM and the University of Cambridge as well as the Hadleigh Park Olympic Mountain Bike Legacy Project were shortlisted – the latter being highly commended.

The Kingsbrook project was an outline planning application for 2,450 homes; two new primary schools and a site reserved for a secondary school; an employment park plus community and road infrastructure.

Aylesbury image2222 Picture credit to James Blake Associates

[Picture credit to James Blake Associates]

The proposal was to combine an urgent housing and road requirement, but in a location where wet ground conditions and ecological sensitivities had to be mitigated. The new development includes an RSPB managed regional wetland reserve.

This scheme was not only an enhancement of eco systems, but also the creation of a new framework for strategic landscaping and open space use. It also required a sustainable means to drain the site for the proposed development. The scheme embodied a collective approach to environmental issues centred on drainage design.

Andrew Blackwell, Partner at Bidwells, said:

"Everyone is delighted that this innovative scheme has been named as winner for this prestigious award.
The challenge was how to mitigate the particular wet ground conditions and ecological sensitivities. The proposal was centered on a hydrological solution that created a new regime of landscape based on the location of important ecological habitats that the means to adapt these into landscaped areas for nature reserves (potentially to be managed by the RSPB)."

Other organisations involved included: James Blake Associates, Southern Ecological Solutions, BDB Design LLP, Charles and Associates Consulting Engineers Ltd.

 RTPI SE 2016 Winner logoRTPI EoE 2016 Winner logo

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