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Four of our young planners and a project we were involved in have been shortlisted as finalists for the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2022.

The awards recognise and reward the brightest talent in the profession; the most outstanding projects, teams and people helping to transform economies, environments, and communities and focus on rewarding the excellent work done from across the profession.

Nia Borsey, based at our Chester office has been shortlisted in the North West region for Young Planner of the Year. Nia has built a reputation as an exceptional planner, proactively expanding our planning services from Cheshire across the border into North Wales. Through a broad range of general practice work, Nia has shown a real flair for creative solutions from farm diversification schemes to listed barn conversions, including a reputation as the go-to planner for dog exercise areas.

Through the RTPI and the National Farmers Union (NFU) she is using her platform to inspire young planners and engage the agricultural industry in the vital role planning plays in the future of farming and land development.

Nia said: “I feel very honoured to have been selected as a finalist, I would like to say a massive thank you to the organisation and my colleagues for the nomination.”

In the East Midlands both Antonia Wyatt and James Beverley from our Ashby office have also been shortlisted in the Young Planner of the Year category. Antonia is dedicated to raising the profile of RTPI in the infrastructure sector through excellent client service and professional development. She specialises is advising on potential constraints and the use of permitted development rights to deliver often complex schemes, working closely with clients from the outset to identify the best design solutions and ensure the delivery of critical infrastructure can begin without delay. 

Antonia is one of very few RTPI planners who is also a member of the Pipeline Industries Guild (PIG), a professional network for the infrastructure sector.She said: “It’s great to be recognised for the work we do in the planning team, I am thrilled to have reached the finals and am looking forward to meeting the other finalists in June.”

James demonstrates real creativity and compassion in strategic development, understanding the importance of community engagement and ensuring everyone has a voice in the planning process. His forte is in his technical knowledge of planning policy and development management. As an active RTPI member and Co-Chair for the East Midlands Young Planners committee, he is a role model for the profession and dedicates substantial time to developing younger planners.

James added: “We all work hard to create exceptional places and have a positive impact on the community and the environment, it is great to have our work recognised and rewarded.”

Melissa Balk, an Associate based at our Bedford Office has also been shortlisted for Young Planner of the Year, in the East of England region. Melissa has demonstrated excellent leadership skills and an eagerness to develop when charged with running the Bedford-based planning team at short notice. She is a team player who cares deeply about her local area, immersing herself in the local plan and business development opportunities and the vital role planning plays in improving the community, particularly through biodiversity and rural projects.

She is also passionate about mental health and well-being and uses her platform through the RTPI and Women in Planning to advocate for its inclusion in national planning policy.

Melissa said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been selected as a finalist. It would not have been possible without the continued support and trust from the organisation which continues to help me grow.”

One of Melissa’s projects has also been shortlisted in the Best Project in the South East region. Featherbed Fruits is a farm diversification project with significant climate, economic and educational benefits. Based near the village of Mixbury, Oxfordshire, the project will supply strawberries to local food outlets and will help meet the increased demand for locally sourced produce. The project will also offer educational school visits and have climate benefits for example through reducing pesticide use, recycling rainfall and the use of a hydroponic (soil free) system.

Liberty Stones, Head of Planning said: “Its great to see a number of our planners shortlisted for Young Planner of the Year. I am proud to be part of a hardworking, proactive and successful team who all deserve recognition for the work they do. It is wonderful to see The RTPI awards celebrate young planners and their contribution to the industry.”

Winners across the regions will be announced and celebrated locally in June and July and winners of each category will go through to the national final, which will take place in November in London