Winners of Clarion Housing Group’s sustainability and placemaking prize will see their concept trialled on a major development site

Clarion Housing Group has announced that applications are open for the fourth year of the William Sutton Prize for Sustainability and Placemaking. This year sees changes to both the categories and the judging panel, with sustainability becoming a key subject of interest.

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Entries will remain open until 6 October for the prize, which was previously won by Bristol-based Ecomotive and SNUG Homes

Clarion is seeking applications from architects and designers for the prize, formerly known as the William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design. The winning concept will be trialled on one of Clarion’s major upcoming development sites.

Areas of focus include, but are not restricted to, creating sustainable and successful communities, sustainable architecture and construction, energy efficiency, and innovations in promoting biodiversity and green living.

No idea is too big or too small, with the organisers keen to see ground-breaking concepts addressing a wide range of issues, including the promotion of community cohesion in new settlements, the future of successful garden communities, carbon-negative building design, the use of renewable and recyclable materials, incorporating renewable or alternative energy sources in affordable housing design, and integrating green spaces and the natural environment to promote health, wellbeing and vibrant neighbourhoods.

The William Sutton Prize was developed by Clarion Housing Group, the UK’s largest provider of affordable housing, to celebrate the legacy of its founder, William Sutton, as a 19th-century innovator and philanthropist who bequeathed his fortune to improve the quality of social housing.

There is up to £20,000 on offer for the winners to help turn their bright ideas into reality, with the funding provided by Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group. The deadline for submission is 6 October.

The winning entries will be determined by a panel led by Clare Miller, group chief executive of Clarion, and including Jas Bhalla, founder of William Sutton Prize-winning Jas Bhalla Architects, Alastair Mant, director of business transformation at the UK Green Building Council, Matthew Morgan, director of the Quality of Life Foundation, and Richard Cook, group development director of Clarion.

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Ecomotive and SNUG Homes took home the William Sutton Prize for their proposal for a construction and training hub in Bristol that will enable residents to co-produce eco-friendly, modular housing in response to local needs

Miller said: “William Sutton’s legacy was to transform lives and communities and it’s been a real privilege to see our winners doing the same over the last few years. There are some hugely talented architects, designers and social entrepreneurs out there, and through the prize we’re committed to helping them develop their ideas to make a difference to their communities.”

Since winning the William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design in 2019, Jas Bhalla Architects was named overall winner in the contest for a 10-unit site in Croydon organised by the council’s arm’s-length developer, Brick By Brick.

Bhalla said: “Winning the William Sutton Prize in 2019 was a huge achievement for us as an emerging practice. The award gave us precious time and space to conduct self-directed research, which we’ve since used to begin important conversations with several local authorities on how to improve design quality in less affluent parts of London.

“I am incredibly excited to be joining the judging panel, and look forward to learning more about this year’s ground-breaking ideas that seek to improve the quality of life and wellbeing across the UK. Promoting the value of good housing design is more important now than ever, as we look to meet the enormous challenges of climate resilience, affordability, and social isolation.”

The winner of the William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design in its third year was Ecomotive and SNUG Homes’ proposal for a construction and training hub in Bristol that will enable residents to co-produce eco-friendly, modular housing in response to local needs.

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A view of the Ecomotive and SNUG Homes’ timber-clad ‘Garden’ SNUG option

Anna Hope, director of training and consultancy at Ecomotive, said: “Winning the William Sutton Prize has given us a massive boost – not only by raising the profile of our project but also through giving us the opportunity to collaborate with professionals from the Clarion team to scale up our plans and increase our social impact.

"We would encourage anyone with projects or ideas in the field of sustainable housing and placemaking to apply for this award, which is unique in its scope, vision and the practical support available to help turn ideas into reality.”

In addition to this design-led award, the William Sutton Prize for Social Innovation will recognise innovative concepts, products or services meeting this year’s theme of “A Home for All”. Applicants will need to show how their idea has the potential to deliver positive change for individuals, disadvantaged groups or communities under one of three key focus areas: innovation in tackling homelessness and addressing temporary accommodation needs, solutions for housing an ageing population, and using technology and new ideas to support successful and sustainable tenancies.

Applications close at midday on 6 October. To find out more about the William Sutton Prize or to apply, visit