Epic tour of shortlist for Housing Design Awards judges

Planners Mike Lowndes, head of Turley Associates residential, and Meredith Evans, Telford’s ex-head of environment and planning laugh off the Leeds rain as they enter Saxton, an Urban Splash remodeling of 1960s council blocks. The development represents a triumph for Kickstart and is the only flatted development of any size to come on the market in Leeds for more than a year.

As always, the Housing Design Awards, now in their 64th year, send a team of judges to visit the shortlisted schemes. So this year 16 judges visited 19 schemes, from Weymouth to Southwold to Keswick to Newcastle on Tyne. Entry fees are reinvested in the judging process and in films of the winning schemes. These will be shown in the British Museum on 20 June and thereafter on the website, www.hdawards.org, where you can see last year’s. The team behind the Awards are fiercely proud of the vigour of the judging process. How many other awards scheme have ever sent 16 multidisciplinary judges to see anything?


One remarkable entry this year was the remodeling of Bolam Coyne, a horseshoe shaped defensive courtyard block in Newcastle’s Byker Wall. This scheme has particular resonance for me, as one of its flanks is next to Raby Street where my mother was born, grew up and went to school. Perhaps the big difference between this scheme and many others built in the post war clearances of northern terraced housing is that this scheme has similar emotional attachment for its community who have led a regeneration project worth about £28m with mostly private money to revive the failing parts of the estate.

Bolam Coyne’s mistake was that it put grannies in bungalows cheek-by-jowl with large families with lots of bumptious kids. The remodeled and re-let scheme by Your Homes Newcastle has been more careful and has also reversed the layout so that access if now from the outside of the horseshoe, not from with the courtyard which is now shared rear gardens. If you are anywhere near Newcastle, make a visit.