Trailblazing schemes up for national planning awards

Two pioneering schemes that are changing lives in Plymouth have helped Plymouth City Council reach the final of the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Excellence.

The Council’s City Change Fund – which uses an online crowdfunding platform to distribute funds – and DataPlay – which works with local talent and tech companies to explore how data and technology can deliver services in new ways – have been shortlisted for the awards, which will be announced in April.

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 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.

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.

Data Play offers access to a range of open data and statistics from national and local data sources and information on topics such as population, ethnicity, employment, health, deprivation and crime.

It aims to use skills and resources readily available in planning services, the community, and the digital tech sector to explore ways of using data to create new products and services. So far nine Data Play days, 17 products in development, various spin off events and an open data platform have been delivered.

Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure said: “These two projects are trail blazers and have really taken off in Plymouth. The City Change Fund has helped some incredible projects come to life which has motivated and inspired thousands of people and Data Play is opening up opportunities for organisations and entrepreneurs.

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.

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