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Inspiring best practice with the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence

Sarah Lewis, MRTPI is the Planning Practice Officer at the RTPI.

Our annual Awards for Planning Excellence are a wonderful way to celebrate the best of the planning profession. They applaud the dedication, enthusiasm and commitment of our members and how they work collaboratively to deliver high quality outcomes for communities in the UK and Ireland, and around the world.

The awards ceremony has now been a highlight of the year for 45 years. They are a positive affirmation of the difference that the planning profession can make to the world. In an often-beleaguered profession it is important to take the time to say a sincere well done. This year’s deadline for entries is Friday 11 March, so you still have a little time to submit your entry to one of the 15 categories.

Did you know that as well as celebrating individual, team, plan making, project and international excellence, the awards are also an invaluable source of inspiration for your planning peers? As the Planning Practice Officer at the RTPI I am responsible for the publication of our Practice Advice Series.

The RTPI advice provides clear, practical and succinct advice for planners on a wide range of subjects. I always include case studies in our advice, that represent best practice in order to demonstrate what innovation looks like and what planning can achieve. My first port of call to source case studies are always the winning and shortlisted entries for the Awards for Planning Excellence.

The submission documents for the awards require entrants to carefully consider the impact of their team or project, so that they can be assessed by our team of respected judges drawn from the planning profession. They are also perfect for identifying case studies.  

I use the award submissions extensively in my work. From the community centred extra care housing in Hull, that was a finalist in the Health and Wellbeing category in 2018. The project demonstrated the need for strong links between the Planning department and Adult Social Care team within Hull City Council to effectively manage the development of 316 affordable rent extra care housing units within the city that have had a positive impact on the health outcomes of the residents and is included in the ‘Dementia and town planning’ practice advice.

To the positive approach taken by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to engaging with young people on their Spatial Development Strategy that was a finalist in 2020. The planning team used specialist and targeted engagement techniques to engage with young people from the very start of the process in order to produce a strategy that is future proofed. It is included in the ‘Children and Town Planning’ practice advice.

This advice also included Marmalade Lane, the overall Silver Jubilee Cup Winner from 2020. This innovative cohousing development on the edge of Cambridge encourages social interaction and the design of the site allows residents to place an emphasis on outdoor play, an important, but often missing aspect of children’s lives.

The introduction of traffic calming measures in Walthamstow Village, North-East London was a 2018 finalist. The reduction in rat runs and other measures helped to create a pedestrian friendly place, that helped deliver much-improved balance of people walking, cycling and using public transport was included in the ‘Mental Health and Town Planning’ practice advice.

The award submissions are used by the RTPI staff in other ways too. To identify potential speakers for events, pinpointing expertise or providing evidence for our research work or in our submissions for calls for evidence by public bodies.

Some have been recently included in our new Planning Your World site that we launched last month to increase the public’s understanding of the planning profession. The impact of the winning and shortlisted entries continues to ripple through the planning community for years to come. Finalists will be announced on 9 May and the winners will be announced at the national awards ceremony on 30 November 2022. We look forward to hearing from you.

For full details of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence please see

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