Pioneering Council project scoops top national award

A pioneering community infrastructure initiative which is helping to change residents lives in Plymouth has helped the City Council win the top award at the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Excellence.

The ‘City Change Fund’ project was awarded the Silver Jubilee Cup and the Excellence in Tech within Planning Practice category. it is the third time the city has been awarded the Jubilee Cup, which is the RTPI’s highest accolade.

The City Change Fund uses Crowdfund Plymouth to distribute funds raised by developments through the Community Infrastructure Levy. While most of this levy is spent on big things that keep the city running like roads, schools and parks, some can be allocated to great local projects.

Since 2015, the Council has pledged over £250,000 on 60 projects with the Crowdfund Plymouth platform, raising over £1.5 million in the city. Projects have included many from social enterprises who are delivering projects that are close to local peoples’ hearts. Campaigns have included improving local green space, such as Collings Park Trust to a sonic art silent disco at Devil’s Point.

The Council uses the Crowdfunder website to distribute the ‘neighbourhood proportion’ and pledges up to 50 per cent of a project’s costs (up to a maximum of £20,000), if they met the legislative and Council’s criteria and priorities.

City Planning Manager Rebecca Miller  said: “This is the third time Plymouth has won the Jubilee Cup – the highest accolade the RTPI can give and I am chuffed to bits for our teams, our council and our city to have achieved this recognition.

“To me, this project is an incredible example of how a council project can make a massive difference to hundreds of people. We have been 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!”

The judges thought this online platform was a ground breaking initiative and the impacts are already vast. They were particularly impressed by the high levels of engagement the Council have had with the public, especially the younger generation, empowering them with involvement in the early planning stages.

Sadie Morgan, Chair of the Judges said: “This is a unique and ground breaking initiative. Plymouth City 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 replicated globally to mobilise community development and supplement Local Authority funding in straightened times.”

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established awards in the UK planning industry. Running for over 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

For more about the City Change Fund visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/citychangefund