Herefordshire Council’s Planning team has won the 2024 West Midlands Planning Excellence Award by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

The award is the second scooped this month by the council’s ground-breaking Luston Wetlands project.

High levels of Phosphate have long been known to damage our rivers including the Wye and Lugg. By 2019 Natural England advised Herefordshire Council that the levels of phosphate in the Lugg sub catchment meant that in order to protect the river, any new housing development must fully offset its phosphate load.

Herefordshire Council responded to this with a unique global first in developing the Luston Wetland to capture and remove phosphate and trade Phosphate Credits with developers to enable housing growth in the north of the county.

The scheme ensures that more phosphate is removed from the river system than is returned to it through any form of development and provides a boost to local biodiversity and wildlife, helping to safeguard our natural environment as a county.

The Luston Wetland is partly funded by developers, and the remainder through New Homes Bonus and Local Enterprise Partnership funding, and the Council will recoup costs through planning contributions to reinvest in several further wetland sites, the first of which will be at Tarrington.

Luston wetlands site

Ross Cook, Corporate Director of Economy and Environment, said: “Following on from receiving the LGC Award earlier this month, this award is further recognition of the work and progress that has been achieved on nutrient neutrality across a number of administrations and with input from so many individuals. The Luston scheme has been a world-first and is helping to tackle nutrient pollution in the county and close the gap on the housing needs that are identified within our Local Plan.”

More information about Luston Wetland can be found on our website.

The RTPI is a leading membership organisation and a Chartered Institute responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally.

The council is now automatically entered as a National Awards for Planning Excellence finalist. This will be formally announced on 16 October 2024. More information about the RTPI Awards can be found at


Published: 27th June 2024