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Press release

25 NOV 2020

Car-free, co-housing community is the UK’s Project of the Year

86 of the UK’s most exemplary built environment projects have gone head-to-head for the national prizes at the inaugural RICS Social Impact Awards Grand Final, where Cambridge’s first co-housing community has been named the first UK Project of the Year.

The latest incarnation of the RICS Awards (which have been running for over 25 years), now named the RICS Social Impact Awards, broke new ground this year with a digital award ceremony that uniquely recognises the built environment’s positive and transformational contribution to society.

The digital ceremony, held on the 24 November 2020, recognised and celebrated the impact of the profession on people’s lives, showcasing the best examples at a national level following the regional finals this summer.

The winning project, Marmalade Lane, is a 42-home cohousing community in Cambridge, designed in collaboration with its future residents. Made possible by an innovative land sale approach, it has enabled residents to achieve their dream of a multi-generational cohousing community.

The UK Project of the Year is built to high environmental standards, resulting in a neighbourhood of beautiful, sustainable homes enveloped by a strong sense of community that is having a tangibly positive impact on residents’ lives and the wider locality.

Earlier this year the landmark community project won the Residential award as well as the Project of the Year, East of England title at the regional RICS ceremony, which led to the project being automatically entered into the RICS Social Impact Awards Grand Final.

RICS Social Impact Awards Grand Final Judges commended the project team – Monaghams, Mole Architects, TOWN and Cambridge Cohousing Group – for their ethic and collaboration, to deliver what they described as “an exemplary template for other schemes with similar aspirations of people-based designs.”

This project captivated the judges and makes an outstanding contribution to society by creating an inspiring co-housing community shaped for and by its residents. A co-operative was formed which guided this scheme from the outset involving residents in the detail alongside the local council and the developer. A combination of sustainable, low energy, and practical units were created.

Chair of the national RICS Judges, David Brooks Wilson FRICS

He adds: “The social impact is exemplified by the sense of community provided by a combination of shared central spaces, and other initiatives such as shared electric vehicles and a reduced car parking provision. In addition, there is enormous interaction between residents involving a local produce shop, gym and workshop, all of which go to foster the community spirit. Open spaces abound, the sole street has been closed into another community area where children can play. As a result, this project stood out as one which exemplified the community spirit making it a scheme of which Cambridge should be justly proud.”

It’s not only exciting for us as a company. It’s an important recognition of how different models of housing - enabled by innovative forms of partnership working - are helping meet some of the enormous challenges of our time.

Jonny Anstead, Director of TOWN, on what winning the award means

The winners of the nine national RICS Social Impact Awards are as follows:

Commercial: Here East, Hackney (London) 

Education: Teesside University Student Life Building, Middlesbrough (North East)

Healthcare: Stokes Centre for Urology, Guildford (South East)

Heritage: Winsford Cottage Hospital, Devon (South West)

Infrastructure: Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls, Shoreham by Sea (South East)

Land & Rural: Humberstone Bank Farm & Beyond Nature, Harrogate (Yorkshire & Humber)

Leisure: The Oasis Centre & Sandpiper Place, Gorton (North West)

Residential: Marmalade Lane, Cambridge (East of England)

Student Accommodation: Baird’s Close Two, Edinburgh (Scotland)



A number of Highly Commended certificates were also awarded to schemes across the UK that had demonstrated excellence:

Education: Lexden Springs School, East of England, Infrastructure: Anlaby & East Ella Flood Alleviation Scheme, Yorkshire and Humber, Land & Rural: Sowerby Gateway, North East and Leisure: Life Kitchen at the Lodge, North East.

Please note, specific information and IMAGES are available for all shortlisted nominees - please contact Sydney Cronin at

Shortlist: RICS Social Impact Awards Grand Final 2020

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