The award was originated by Arnold Sayers, former Leader and Chairman of Devon County Council, in response to European Heritage Year in 1975 and from a desire to improve the quality of the design of housing in Devon.
Arnold Sayers died in 2009 but his family expressed a wish to continue to support and sponsor the scheme. The event is administered by the RIBA South West, supported by the RIBA Exeter and Plymouth branches, and sponsored by the Devon Conservation Forum, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the University of Plymouth.
There are two categories for the awards - single housing design and group housing design - and the projects considered are to be located in the county of Devon. The awards jury, made up of architect peers and a lay assessor judge each building, considering architectural quality and contribution to its own environment.
The awards scheme for 2010 was cancelled due to a low number of entries.