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Crowdfunding initiative awarded RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup

Words: Laura Edgar
City Change Fund / Plymouth City Council

A pioneering community infrastructure initiative that embraces crowdfunding technology has taken the top prize at the RTPI’s 2019 Awards for Planning Excellence ceremony, which took place in London this week (24 April).

Plymouth Council's ‘City Change Fund’ was first declared winner in the Excellence in Tech Within Planning Practice category before being chosen from all 14 category winners as the winner of the Silver Jubilee Cup. It's the third time that the council has won this overall prize.

In embracing online crowdfunding technology, the judges found City Change Fund has established a “genuinely citizen-led decision-making approach” for how funds for community infrastructure raised by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) were distributed.

Sadie Morgan, design industry leader and chair of the judging panel, said: “This is a unique and groundbreaking initiative. Plymouth Council went beyond simple community engagement into community involvement by empowering the local community to be proactive and invest with them in the City Change Fund from its inception.

“The project is a great example of the power of technology and how it can bring people and resources together more quickly than ever before. It will be exciting to see how this will continue to advance and the impacts it will have on planning in the future, as this is an approach that can be replicated globally to mobilise community development and supplement local authority funding in straightened times.”

The council has used the Crowdfunder UK website to distribute the ‘neighbourhood portion’ of the CIL towards local projects that are led and supported by the citizens of Plymouth.

The use of a digital platform has increased the visibility and success of projects that receive funding, the council says. It has engaged thousands of residents in local projects, including improvements to local green space and a sonic art silent disco.

Rebecca Miller, city planning manager at Plymouth City Council, said: “To me, this project is an incredible example of how a council project can make a massive difference to hundreds of people. From the moment we set it up, we were blown away by the ideas, innovation and passion people had for projects designed to make Plymouth an even better place to be.

“A city is not just about buildings, roads and services. It is about the people who live here and how they feel about Plymouth. The fact this funding comes from developments across the city means residents are benefiting from growth. We are engaging with community groups and residents in a whole new way. It is helping to  galvanise people who have incredible ideas and drive – to make things happen!”

Ian Tant MRTPI, president of the RTPI, said: “Huge congratulations to Plymouth City Council and all those who won or were commended at the awards. The range of submissions this year was just tremendous and truly reflected the outstanding contribution that planning and planners make to successful places, sustainable environments, and lively, healthy communities.

“Nothing speaks up for planning so well as the great work showcased by our winning, commended and short-listed projects, teams and people.”

The awards also saw Jenna Langford, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, named Young Planner of the Year. She is a senior regeneration officer for the council. Last year, she won the Young Planner of the Year award at the West Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence.

The headline sponsors of the 2019 awards are engineering firm AECOM and real estate service provider Savills.


The winners of the 2019 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are:

Excellence in Plan Making Practice

Winner: Wandle Vistas

Submitted by: Fiona Fyfe Associates

Commended: East Lothian Local Development Plan 2018

Submitted by: East Lothian Council Planning Service  

Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy

Winner: Spanish City

Submitted by: North Tyneside Council

Excellence in Planning for Health and Wellbeing

Winner: Cuningar Loop Urban Woodland Park

Submitted by: South Lanarkshire Council

Commended: Tackling Health Inequalities in South Worcestershire: an holistic approach

Submitted by: Worcestershire County Council

Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture

Winner: Spanish City

Submitted by: North Tyneside Council

Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment

Winner: Stirling Enhanced Landscape Mitigation Project

Submitted by: Ironside Farrar Ltd and Scottish Power Energy Networks

Excellence in Planning for Homes – small schemes

Winner: PLACE/Ladywell

Submitted by: London Borough of Lewisham

Commended: Burlingham Square

Submitted by: Matthews City and Country Homes

Excellence in Planning for Homes – large schemes

Winner: Dargavel Village

Submitted by: Renfrewshire Council

Commended: Castleward Urban Village redevelopment

Submitted by: HTA Design LLP

Excellence in Planning for Tech Within Planning Practice

Winner: City Change Fund

Submitted by: Plymouth City Council

Commended: Drones in Coastal Management Planning in North Norfolk

Submitted by: NPS Group

International Award for Planning Excellence

Winner: Ibadan City Masterplan

Submitted by: DAR

Commended: Development Plan of Jinjiang Dream Town for Talents

Submitted by: Wei Yang + Partners

Commended: Plan your Brisbane

Submitted by: Brisbane City Council

In-house Planning Team of the Year

Winner: Sport England

Commended: Natural Power Consultants

Local Authority Planning Team of the Year

Winner: London Borough of Brent

Commended: Aylesbury Vale District Council

Small Planning Consultancy

Winner: NTR Planning

Planning Consultancy

Winner: LUC

Commended: Nexus Planning Limited

Young Planner of the Year

Winner: Jenna Langford, Sandwell MBC

Commended: Ailsa Anderson, Aberdeenshire Council and Charlotte Morphet, London Borough of Waltham Forest

Image credit (top) | Plymouth City Council