In a tightly fought contest between very strong contenders, St James claimed the award for this distinctive example of landscaping

Possibly the best testimonial to the strength of St James’ entry is the quality of the runners-up in this category. What swung it for this place was just how lovely it is to look at. It wasn’t always so pleasant; a few years ago, for example, it was a sewage treatment works. The judges were knocked out by the “distinctive sense of place”, which was achieved “using simple, traditional design and high-quality, relatively lavish landscaping … The landscaping here is tremendous”. So what was so good about it? Well, its 26 acres is home to 536 one- to six-bedroom flats, townhouses, and semi-detached and detached homes. The setting includes six acres of hard landscaping, cycleways, tree-lined avenues, water terraces, pools, ornamental bridges and formal gardens, all of which have won approval from the neighbouring botanical gardens. The parkland is further enlivened by dramatic contemporary sculptures by prominent young artists. In other words, this is placemaking at its very best.


Harbourside East, Littlehampton, entered by Bellway

Littlehampton is a small port on the South Coast between Brighton and Portsmouth. It used to be a busy place, but more recently its economy has declined. The response of the local authority, Arun council, has been to redevelop the town’s East Bank wharves. This involved a combination of intricate marine engineering and the use of eye-catching vernacular architecture to create attractive elevations, complete with vertical slate tile hanging, traditional flint work and timber cladding. The centrepiece of the development is a five-storey visitor centre. The net result is a highly successful scheme that has acted as a catalyst for other regeneration projects around it.

Lennox Estate, Roehampton, entered by Higgins

The demolition of a grim underground car park on the Lennox Estate in Roehampton, south London, has become the occasion for a £4m showcase project for the London borough of Wandsworth. The car park, which had become a no-go area for residents and visitors, has now been replaced by six spacious two and three-bedroom houses and 5400 m2 of communal gardens. The effect has been to reduce crime on the estate simply by replacing an ideal home for it with ideal homes for people on the council’s waiting list. The judges were appreciative of the construction team’s skill in tackling the work without the availability of accurate plans – not unusual since the demise of the Greater London Council – and its ability to think on the job, such as when Higgins’ general foreman Hatib Sinhateh saw the potential to add a balcony to one of the flats.

Kings Hill Village, entered by Liberty Property Trust

Kings Hill is a new build village near Maidstone in Kent. The development includes everything needed to make a sustainable community, from schools to businesses, and has been designed in a mix of traditional and contemporary styles by a range of housebuilders. The whole 323 ha development has been masterplanned to allow every resident to reach the village centre by taking a short walk or cycle ride through pedestrian and cyclist-friendly streets. The civic centre of the village is Liberty Square, with its shops and leisure facilities, farmers’ market and community hall for recreational events. All in all, the judges thought this was a splendid example of how architects and planners could join forces to make a community with a strong and enduring identity.