By Max Clarke

Plans to create a new mile long floating river walk along the north bank of the River Thames, connecting Blackfriars Bridge with the Tower of London have won the Mayor’s Award for ‘Planning Excellence’ at the 2010 London Planning Awards.

Designed by global architects and planners Gensler as part of the London 2012 celebrations, the ‘London River Park’ is a conceptual idea to provide a continuous floating pontoon to run parallel to the existing disjointed pathways and streets that currently connect this important stretch of river frontage bordering the City of London.

The design also includes five large themed pavilions which, following the 2012 Games, can be used to stage large events and will also deliver a lasting legacy for London by incorporating new ferry terminals and mooring facilities. The entire structure could be moved elsewhere along the river if desired.

The annual London Planning Awards, jointly run by the Mayor, London First, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and London Councils, were created to recognise planning professionals and organisations that have made a vital contribution to the capital in making it a better place to live, work, do business and visit.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The brilliance of this design, apart from its sheer beauty, is that it will act as a fantastic catalyst for rejuvenating the Thames as a major transport artery. It also respects the northern shoreline allowing users to hop on and off to explore its iconic landmarks and wander through the meandering backstreets of the historic City of London. I am in no doubt that this could become one of the capital’s most popular attractions for years to come and urge investors to grab the opportunity to turn this vision into a reality.

“Yet again, the standard of this years’ entries are excellent. From libraries and schools to village greens, town squares and even railway lines, the sheer variety of the projects submitted gives me great confidence that progress towards transforming London is reaching every corner of this great city.”

In judging the ‘Planning Excellence’ category, the Mayor was looking for a scheme that embodied imagination, ambition and that can deliver lasting change for London. The London River Park, was particularly noted for its “its sheer simplicity and dazzling audacity”.

For the first time in the awards’ history the Mayor also awarded a commendation in the ‘Planning Excellence’ category. Clapham Manor Primary School, submitted by dRMM Architects, was praised for its “joyful response to tricky planning constraints”.

The contemporary, polychromatic design of the new wing was inspired by post-war system built schools and provides much needed additional learning space, whilst fitting into a tight urban environment. It was carefully crafted in consultation with staff, pupils and local residents, and the resultant reorientation of the school has improved security and safety in the neighbouring public realm.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “The London Planning Awards celebrate the best of what can be achieved in this great city of ours — they demonstrate what is possible when we work together to create great buildings, places and neighbourhoods. This year’s winners are once again outstanding and will no doubt strengthen London’s position as the best city in the world.”

Richard Summers, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “The London Planning Awards are invariably a highlight of the year, and the London River Park is an exemplar of imagination and problem solving. It’s an inspiration to planners who day to day try to reconcile competing economic social and environmental issues in achieving sustainable development”

London Councils Executive Member for Planning, Councillor Chris Roberts, said: “All of the organisations that have entered play a significant role in shaping our capital and these awards enable others to recognise the importance of the work that they do.

“We congratulate all of this year’s winners and thank everybody who entered for taking part. In particular we are pleased that the list of winners once again recognises the contributions of London’s local authorities to our urban environment.