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Why we are changing our Awards for Planning Excellence for 2022

Sarah Woodford is the RTPI’s Head of English Regions

As we start the New Year, we are delighted to share with you exciting news about our refreshed awards for 2022.

These changes come about following listening to feedback from our members and applicants about how we might make the process of entering our awards more streamlined.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that over the past couple of years we have been moving towards a coordinated approach to delivering our awards, culminating in a series of awards ceremonies that took place virtually in 2020 and 2021.

This year we take that approach one step further by bringing together our awards – be it national, international, nation or regions under one umbrella – simply put, our Awards for Planning Excellence.

Is this the end for local awards?

So, what does that mean for our awards in our nations and regions I hear you ask? Our ‘local’ awards are without a doubt one of the highlights of the calendar year for us, bringing with it the opportunity to celebrate our best achievements in planning with our peers, colleagues and indeed the wider community which planning serves.  

First and foremost, we will continue celebrate ‘on the ground’ these amazing contributions and the opportunities to showcase these through our local activities such as events and presidential visits, but also across all our media channels including local press, where stories about our winning entries are published and help to raise the profile of planning to a wide audience. 

The 2022 Awards for Planning Excellence transition aims to build on this, giving our entrants from across the nations and regions a ‘double-bite’ of the cherry, meaning we get the chance to promote our shortlisted entrants and winners across all our media platforms, both nationally and locally.

Why it makes sense

We are doing all of this with the aim of demystifying the process and making it simple to enter.   Gone are the days where entrants have to choose whether to enter their nation or region or take the direct entry route in the national awards – now there is just one point of entry.

Bringing everything together in the one calendar year also makes much more sense. We judge and celebrate locally in our nations and regions first, culminating with national judging and an overall ceremony at the end of the year. Our top scoring entries from the nations and regions will automatically become national finalists – and they will be up against contenders who have gone through the same process. 

For our sponsors too, who play a vital role in supporting us to put our winners ‘on the stage’, we have been able to tailor packages to suit, offering what is in essence a ‘pick and mix’ option to suit big and small organisations and those that are looking to raise their profile nationally or in specific locations.

Bringing in the old and new

For those of you that are familiar with our awards, you will be pleased to hear that it’s not all change.   We have honed our criteria and categories over the years, and many of these remain.  One difference is that some awards have been grouped together.  We will award Best Plan and Best Project at local level and winning projects will then compete in one of our seven project categories. 

This year also sees the introduction of a new category – Head Planner of the Year.  This award seeks to celebrate the work undertaken by individuals leading their organisation’s planning service.  Alongside our Planning Authority of the Year, these two awards aim to shine a spotlight on the achievements, ambition and excellence displayed within our local authorities.

Why 2022 could be your year to celebrate

We entered because we believed we had delivered some excellent work but we wanted that to be tested and the RTPI awards was the ideal vehicle. 

(Simon Bates, East Devon District Council - Clyst Valley Regional Park Masterplan –  Overall winner of RTPI SW Awards for Planning Excellence 2021)


As we start a new year, it’s good to take the time to look back to and reflect on past achievements and successes from 2020 and 2021 – and we know there are plenty of them out there. Whilst you may already be proud of your achievements, entering the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence is the ultimate test of excellence and the benefits are truly motivating.  So, whilst your inbox may already be full and your new year resolutions already set, do consider adding awards to your goals for 2022. To help you decide, we have put together some tips and reminders for you to make things as easy as possible along with some FAQs for any further questions. Of course, if you have any questions your local RTPI staff member or our Awards team will be happy to guide you.

Entries are now open and close on 11 March – you never know it could well be your turn to celebrate your project, plan, team or colleague.

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