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Westminster Council announces ‘People’s Choice’ architecture award at AJ100 club

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Westminster Council is to launch of a new design award to promote the central London borough’s vision for its built environment

Speaking at the AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridge’s on Friday, Westminster’s deputy leader Robert Davis said the new architecture award, part of the council’s resurrected Design Excellence campaign, will be decided by public vote.

Originally launched in 2008, the campaign aimed to improve design quality in the borough. But, as Davis told the AJ in September, standards have slipped since, with the council granting planning permission to a number of ‘second-rate designs’.

Davis said the Design Excellence campaign would be ‘revived’ with a series of events and seminars in the new year. The new award will ask residents to vote for ‘an outstandingly designed building that they feel makes a palpable contribution to Westminster’s built environment’.

He added: ‘This People’s Choice award will be promoted via various channels in the new year for the people of Westminster to have their say, choosing from a shortlist selected by a panel of councillors and outside experts, including architects.’

Davis also pledged that once the ‘glitz and glamour’ of the new award had faded a way, further seminars and events would ‘provide a forum in which to discuss the broad church that is great design’.

In addition, he provided details about a planned public consultation on building at height in Westminster, saying that a ‘discussion exercise’ would begin by the end of the year and a policy will be formally developed next year. 

‘There are a number of very clear benefits that great design brings to our environment,’ Davis told AJ100 members. ‘Our surroundings have a huge bearing on health and well-being, as well as reducing crime and delivering sustainable outcomes.

‘Well-designed buildings can also yield much higher returns for developers, increasing demand and attracting investment to help bolster prosperity in Westminster. Those benefits, of course, work in tandem with the simple aesthetic advantages of great design – the pleasure we can all take from looking upon an outstanding building.’ 

The next AJ100 event will be a lunch at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester on 25 November when the keynote speaker will be David Rudlin, who manages urban design and environmental consultant Urbed and won the 2014 Wolfson Economic Prize for his work on Garden Cities. 

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