Best Use of Heritage win for Urban&Civic at Planning Awards


Urban&Civic has been awarded ‘Best Use of Heritage’ at the 2022 Planning Awards, for the Houlton School transformation, a project delivered as a joint venture with Aviva Investors.

The award submission “Transmitting to Young Minds – the transformation of Rugby Radio Station into Houlton School” documented the Grade II Listed Rugby Radio Station refurbishment into Houlton’s new secondary school.

Urban&Civic Regional Director for Communications, Communities and Partnerships, Johanne Thomas, collected the award on the night alongside collaborators including Rugby Borough Council, Houlton School, Transforming Lives Educational Trust, Department for Education, van Heyningen and Haward Architects, David Lock Associates Ltd and LocatEd.

Reflecting on the win, Johanne said: We are delighted to receive this award, validating what we know is a transformational and unique project for Houlton, Rugby and Urban&Civic. 

“It was great to have the opportunity to celebrate with partners that worked closely with us - testament to the strength of partnership and collaboration throughout. A lot of time, dedication and passion went into the project from all involved and winning an award like this really is the icing on the cake.”  

This year’s celebrations at The Mermaid London were the ninth consecutive Planning Awards. The awards reward people and projects across multiple disciplines, including heritage conservation, urban design, economic development, partnership working, environmental consultancy, housing and law.

Celebrating the significance of the project, the judges said “The Houlton School project has fully realised the ambitions set for it: restoring the heritage of Rugby Radio Station and making it publicly accessible, creating a sustainable, distinctive and state-of-the-art school.

“An innovative and committed public/private partnership has created an iconic community facility in the heart of a new community, delivered on budget and on programme, almost entirely during a global pandemic!”

The secondary school forms part of the infrastructure being delivered by Urban&Civic and Aviva to support the 6200 home masterplan for Houlton. A primary school (St Gabriel’s), extensive green spaces and play parks, a local centre comprising a Visitor Centre, Co-op, Tuning Fork café, community centre and children’s nursery and the 5km link road connection Houlton to Rugby have already been delivered and some 1000 homes are now occupied.

“It is really pleasing to see our project at Houlton being recognised with an accolade such as this. It is testament to the great work done in partnership with Urban&Civic to transform the site, improve its energy performance and create an educational centre at the heart of the community. We look forward to continuing our work and deliver an inclusive sustainable environment for families and businesses.” James Stevens, Head of Real Estate Investment at Aviva Investors.