24 February 2021

Aberdeenshire Council nominated for two prestigious planning industry sector awards

The Planning and Environment Service at Aberdeenshire Council has been named in prestigious industry awards for its work on the Proposed Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan (LDP) 2020.

The council is a finalist in two categories at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Delivering Digital Engagement During a Pandemic in the ‘Excellence in Plan Making Practice’ category and the ‘Excellence in Tech within Planning Practice’ category.

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence have been running for more than 40 years and celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

Amidst a global pandemic, Aberdeenshire Council moved seamlessly from a consultation strategy traditionally reliant on face-to-face engagement to one promoting primarily digital means of engagement last year.

Adapting to changes imposed by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, the council revised its Development Plan Scheme and embarked upon delivering an online consultation for its Proposed LDP 2020. 

A ‘one stop shop’ micro-website was created to ensure ease of access to information which included a virtual drop-in ‘room’, an interactive ‘story map’, three short films, interactive activities for young people, a live chat function and additional resources made available to assist communities.

Paul Macari, Head of Planning and Environment at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “The most important outcome was to enhance the experience of consultees by providing and facilitating opportunities to engage in the Plan-making process while at the same time continuing to deliver a new LDP for the Aberdeenshire area.

“The innovative provisions put in place resulted in publication of the Proposed LDP being delayed by only four weeks rather than potentially over a year had we waited for restrictions associated with the pandemic to ease.

“Delivering a more resilient way of working against the backdrop of a global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital tools and innovations and Aberdeenshire Council has been very much at the forefront of promoting this new approach. The lessons learned from this project will inform the way in which not only the Planning Service but how the council as an organisation undertakes engagement activities in the future.”

RTPI President Wei Yang FRTPI said: “Many congratulations to all the finalists at this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence – these projects, teams and individuals showcase the very best of the planning profession from all the RTPI’s regions and nations and from countries around the world.

“For over 40 years, these prestigious awards have celebrated the exceptional work undertaken by town planners. In the middle of a global pandemic, I believe they are more relevant than ever before, recognising the incredible commitment and dedication of planners who have risen to the challenge of responding to the impacts of Covid-19 on the planning system. I wish all the finalists the very best of luck at the ceremony on 29 April.”

Sarah Elliott MRTPI, UK&I Town Planning Lead for Buildings and Places at AECOM, said: “AECOM is proud to once again be a headline sponsor of this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The finalists are a diverse mixture of outstanding examples of planning, including new responses driven by the pandemic and climate change. Once again this demonstrates the breadth of the impact the profession has on quality place making and delivery in the built environment, alongside our resilience to evolve and adapt.”

The winners will be announced during a ceremony held virtually in the Awards Room on Evessio at 4pm on Thursday, 29 April 2021.