From its inception, Harlow Civic Society has commented on planning proposals, lobbied to protect Harlow’s heritage and participated in many consultations, workshops and enquiries. We have also proactively made detailed proposals for developments in some areas of the town, including the Town Centre, in an attempt to influence changes or where we see that regeneration is needed. All of this based on the principles behind the original design of the town.

However, all too often our planners and councillors, who approve, or not, new schemes, say that they can only decide based on what is in front of them and that they cannot do much to improve designs.  Often when we comment on the design of proposed structures, this is the reply we receive. It is an approach that encourages mediocrity since schemes can get through the system as long as they are just ‘good enough’.

In 2015 we decided to set-up an annual award for the best new structures completed in the town each year. We wished to encourage architects to come forward with good designs and to do this from the very beginning of a proposed development.  We wanted architects, owners and developers to have their sights on recognition and of the inherent value an award would have. We hoped make it prestigious by our support for it, there being no direct financial reward. 

This initiative resulted in Harlow Civic Society launching the Harlow Architectural Design Awards in 2016. These are sponsored by Places for People, Architecture and Design Services and Proud of Harlow.

These annual awards encourage the highest standards of architecture, landscaping and development while preserving the environment and the town’s heritage. We also seek to encourage Harlow residents to become involved in finding, recognising and rewarding the best architecture in the town for the benefit of present and future generations.Each year, one residential and one non-residential building, and (from 2019) one environmental project, completed in the preceding 12 months is selected by an expert judging panel following a public vote. There are trophies by local artists presented to the winner of each category.

Orchard Croft – 2016 Residential Winner

The awards are now in their fourth year and we are finding that developers are increasingly wanting to be shortlisted, thus fulfilling the original intention of the awards. In 2019, a third environmental award category has been introduced, so that we can also encourage the best in environmental and landscape design as a fundamental principle of any development.

4 Forebay Lane – 2018 Residential Winner
2018 winners at the awards presentation

For further information, please click here for the dedicated Awards web site:

Harlow Architectural Design Awards