The Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan was a double award winner at the Planning Awards 2021.
At the ceremony on Thursday (June 10), the plan from the Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group (HEGNPG) with masterplanners URBAN Silence first picked up the Award For Plan-Making.
The Plan-Making award is given to the entry that best shows how a plan can have a positive impact on the physical or environmental quality of a place or the economic or social well-being of its community.
The Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan, which passed its referendum last month with a massive 98% of the vote in a high turnout, also won the prestigious Editor’s Award.
This award is given across all categories by Planning’s editor, to the Plan that “represents the most exceptional achievement of all”.
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 [in areas of] growth”.
HEGNPG Chairman Anthony Bickmore said: “These two awards are a massive national endorsement of our Neighbourhood Plan.
“Our groundbreaking plan is the first of the Neighbourhood Plans for the new Garden Towns.”
He added: “This major recognition shows the ongoing importance of community involvement and the need of planners to respect localism and listen to what local communities have to say in the formation and implementation of development policies.
“Following this double award from the judges and the overwhelming endorsement from local residents, we as a group are further empowered to work with the planners in the right spirit, if they respect our policies”
Joanna Chambers and Martina Juvara of URBAN Silence said: “The double award is a testament to the value created when a community comes together to influence and shape the future of their area.
“As the Editor Richard Garlick said when he gave the award to the Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan: this is the best, and maybe only way, to plan large scale developments in future.”
Mary Parsons, Chair of the Town and Country Planning Association and former Director at developers Places for People who are working on the Gilston project, said: “Congratulations to all of the Neighbourhood Planning team.
“[It is a ]testimony to all of the hours, and the evenings and weekends, spent working on it.
“[It] shows the role that positive neighbourhood planning can play in large scale development.”
After several rounds of consultation, the plan passed an independent examination in February 2021.
It was endorsed at referendum in May 2021 with 97.8% of the vote on a high 37.20% turnout.