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Commonwealth Association of Planners Celebrates Planning Success

18 December 2018

By Peter Geraghty, Head of Planning and Transport at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, FRTPI

CAP created its Awards to celebrate planning success. The inaugural Awards Ceremony was held in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2018 to coincide with the Planning Africa conference.

It’s not often that planners have an opportunity to celebrate their profession. The work of planners has the potential to profoundly affect people’s lives. The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) recognises the significance of celebrating planning success and have inaugurated its first ever planning awards. CAP chose Cape Town as the venue to announce the winner and present these awards. Cape Town’s incredible natural beauty and its vibrant multicultural character made it a fitting location.  They coincided with the Planning Africa conference held during the 14th – 17th October 2018.

There was one outright winner: the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, New Zealand in association with Enfocus, GNS Science, Integrity Professionals Limited and Independent Social Research, Evaluation and Facilities for its innovative risk-based planning and engagement for Natural Hazards. The judges said of the successful entry that it represented a thorough and innovative approach which was led by planners ‘recognising diversity, engagement and the need for simplicity’. They considered that it has ‘particular relevance across the Commonwealth when thinking about climate change, hazards and other resilience challenges’. The judges noted the use of a natural hazard integrated approach, planning science and wider considerations of risk. It is no surprise that it also won the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Best Practice Award for District or Regional Plans in 2017.

The awards were judged by an eminent panel consisting of Professor Barbara Norman PhD, PPPIA, Hon. MRTPI (Australia), Emeritus Professor Cliff Hague MA, MRTPI, OBE (CAP Past President) and Trudi Elliott MRTPI, CBE (CAP Patron). The judges were highly impressed by the strength of the entries, in recognition of which,  they also made four commendations: Cred Consulting, City of Parramatta Council for Embedding Young People in Planning and Engagement Processes; Beca International Consultants Limited, for Risk Mapping and Planning for Urban Preparedness, Port Vila and Luganville, Vanuatu; Barker & Associates, in collaboration with Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, Northland Regional Council and Whangarei District Council for the Te Tai Tokerau Papakāinga Toolkit; the Government of Ghana and Ghana Institute of Planners for the Ghana  40-year Long Term National Development Plan.

These successful entrants are not singular buildings or examples of individual design; they celebrate a broader range and richness of planning practice and the diversity of outcomes. The standard of entry was very high and the nature of submissions spread across a range of planning practice.

Coinciding with the Commonwealth Association of Planners’ inaugural awards was the South African Planning Institute (SAPI) Awards. The awards recognise the valuable contributions that individuals and organisations make through their continued involvement and promotion of the planning profession in public life and it was noticeable how many awards went to young and early career planning professionals.

Planning awards provide a valuable frame of reference through to illustrate the beneficial effects of good planning and demonstrate the value of good planning practice. They positively promote planners and professional practice, regardless of planning systems. Celebrating, rewarding and recognising such performance and expertise is fundamental to promoting and encouraging good practice and attracting new people to the planning profession. It is not on the basis of the planning system that planners should be judged but on the quality of planning practice.

I was struck by the natural beauty and the vibrant multicultural character of Cape Town and surrounding Western Cape province. The location was certainly reflected in the diverse nature of the successful awardees for the CAP and SAPI awards. I departed Cape Town following the awards feeling upbeat and positive about the future of planning practice.

Details of the CAP awards can be found here.

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