Ten-year transformation of Scottish fishing village wins top UK planning award

Stromness (image credit: Orkney Islands Council)

A 10-year plan to regenerate a declining fishing village in Scotland has won the top prize at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

The plan for Stromness – which included extensive community input – was awarded the Silver Jubilee Cup, at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018 held in London last night. It also won in the Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy category.

The Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry.

Planners at Orkney Islands Council led a whole-of-council task force to implement the 10-year plan that has transformed the declining town following the community warning Stromness was being ‘left behind’.

Over the past 10 years, the plan has resulted in 12 major projects implemented across the town, including new and upgraded public spaces, new shops and businesses and a new primary school.

The library was not only rebuilt and moved to a new site – in the centre of the town, at the community’s request - to ensure it was accessible to everyone.

A new fishing pier was built with European funding, and new business and industrial spaces were allocated near the pier.

The council has also begun work for a new international research facility and infrastructure for tidal and wave energy generation.

All this were the result of council planners working closely with the community and involving them from the very start, using a ‘blank page approach’ to establish the community’s key priorities.

Using this, a draft plan was drawn up, which was then shaped by community events, meetings and surveys, plus well attended community workshops.

Craig McLaren FRTPI, RTPI Awards advisor, said: “Stromness has been regenerated over the past 10 years through a comprehensive, plan-led strategy. It was spearheaded by the council’s planners who were key to its success through establishing a vision for the town and ensuring commitment from other players to help deliver it. The dramatic before and after photographs show just how profound the transformation has been. This remarkable ‘place-based’ approach could be used as a blueprint to revive declining towns across the country.”

John Acres MRTPI, RTPI president, added: “Congratulations to all the winners and commended entries. This year’s awards have been a true celebration of planners’ passion for creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. Planners and planning make an important contribution to society and these awards highlight outstanding examples of what can be achieved with vision, leadership and expertise.”

Running for over 40 years, the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society. This year saw a nearly record number of entrants and the judges shortlisted 78 finalists across 13 categories.

Category winners:

Excellence in Plan Making Practice


  • Towards a Stamford Hill Plan - submitted by: London Borough of Hackney
  • Commended

    • West of England Partnership - submitted by: West of England Joint Spatial Plan
    • Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy


      • Stromness Regeneration - submitted by: Orkney Islands Council
      • Excellence in Planning for Health and Wellbeing


        • Seaham Harbour Marina - Water Sports Activity Centre - submitted by: Durham County Council
        • Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture


          • Stanton Moor Principles - submitted by: Peak District National Park Authority
          • Commended

            • Depot, Lewes Community Screen
            • South Downs National Park Authority & Burrell Foley Fischer Architects and Urban Designers
            • Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment


              • Caeau Mynydd Mawr SPG and March Fritillary Project - submitted by: Camarthenshire County Council
              • Excellence in Planning to Deliver Homes - large schemes


                • Nelson Project - submitted by: Plymouth City Council
                • Commended

                  • Bourne Estate Regeneration
                  • Tibbalds and London Borough of Camden
                  • Excellence in Planning to Deliver Homes - small schemes


                    • Enfield Small Sites - submitted by: HTA Design LLP
                    • International Award for Planning Excellence


                      • Economic and Urban Multi-site Development Project - submitted by: INTA
                      • In-house Planning Team of the Year


                        • National Grid
                        • Commended

                          • HTA Design LLP
                          • Local Authority Planning Team of the Year


                            • Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
                            • Commended

                              • Teignbridge District Council
                              • Small Planning Consultancy of the Year


                                • Situ8 Planning Consultancy
                                • Commended

                                  • NTR Planning
                                  • Urban Imprint Ltd
                                  • Planning Consultancy of the Year


                                    • Deloitte Real Estate
                                    • Commended

                                      • Indigo Planning
                                      • Young Planner of the Year


                                        • Heather Claridge, Glasgow City Council
                                        • Commended

                                          • Charlotte Morphet, London Borough of Waltham Forest
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