Winner — Wandsworth council and Berkeley Homes

The creation of Chelsea Bridge Wharf from a derelict, contaminated industrial site into a vibrant block of more than 800 apartments is one of the more visible examples of the transformation of Battersea. The finished design managed to combine the requirements of a complicated planning brief with a landmark design that had to hold its own with next door’s power station. One of Berkeley’s strategies to ease the job of building control was brilliantly simple: it made sure that a large number of plots were ready for each of Wandsworth building control’s periodic visits. The upshot was that Berkeley exceeded the requirements of fire engineering, acoustics standards and disabled access – and conceived and executed one of the outstanding Thamesside developments of recent years.

The finalists

Birmingham council and Gardner Stewart Architects

This project in Birmingham’s Park Central district set out to tackle one of the toughest jobs in the whole Urban Design and regeneration industries: how to deliver volume housebuilding that “delights and lifts the spirits”, in the words of architect Gardner Stewart’s entry. The judges considered that this scheme pulled it off, thanks to its vibrant townscapes, generous amenities and inventive architecture. It also provided the keystone of any successful regeneration: jobs, thanks to its 225,000ft2 of commercial, retail, leisure and community space. Then there was its concern for the space of individuals: each mews cottage had 35m2 of private terrace and apartments have 15m2 balconies.

Poole council and Primetower Properties

Last year, Poole entered a formal LABC Partnership with Primetower Properties, and promptly tailored its service to suit the client’s needs across its entire build programme, including significant schemes such as Waves/Breakers on the Sandbanks Peninsula. This was particularly valuable given Primetower’s relatively small size and large ambitions. For example, the Sandbanks project involved houses with extensive open plan living areas and glazed walls to maximise light and views – Poole building control helped to work out how the fire protection should work, and when the developer decided to add a roof terrace Poole worked out how a sprinkler system could be used in lieu of an external staircase. All in all, an exemplary relationship.

Devon Building Control Partnership and Midas Homes

Midas Homes, the Galliford Try subsidiary based in Newton Abbot, has a 20-year track record of undertaking ambitious schemes. In the past five years, its endeavours have been helped by a partnership with Devon Building Control Partnership – an alliance between Teignbridge council and West Devon borough council. Since Midas usually develops brownfield sites, it has a constant struggle with contaminated land, poor ground conditions, sewers and listed buildings. One approach taken is to give Midas and its architect an account manager from building control. This manager then works closely with the design team to resolve problems – so closely that as the manager acquired more specialised knowledge, they merge into the design team.

Gateshead council and The National Trust

The National Trust entered Gibside stables for this award. This 18th-century, grade II-listed, Palladian-style block near Newcastle upon Tyne was saved from dereliction and now provides a wide range of residential educational facilities for all ages of student. The client and Gateshead council’s building control department worked together to realise a sensitive and painstaking restoration – as far as humanly possible – of the Georgian building.

Wandsworth council and St George

If London has a shop window where it displays its architectural wares, it has to be the banks of the Thames. If so, St George’s Chelsea Bridge Wharf has stocked the area to the west of Battersea Power station with a splendid apartment block that completely transforms a previously derelict site. Derelict it may have been, but Thamesside projects attract the scrutiny of planners like no other, and this one required very careful negotiation between the council and the developer to ensure that commercial and regulatory needs were both satisfied. One of St George’s ploys was to ensure that a large number of plots were available for inspection, so as to make the inspections as efficient as possible. The result of all this painstaking work is clear, and London is a better city as a result.