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RTPI Planning Awards: Pioneering Places nominated as Best Project

Pioneering Places outcomes
Pioneering Places project outcomes

Pioneering Places, a cultural placemaking project delivered across four locations in Kent by leading cultural and heritage organisations, is a finalist in the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Award for Planning Excellence as Best Project. The RTPI Awards celebrate outstanding plans, projects and people that demonstrate the power of planning. These awards continue to recognise and reward the most outstanding projects, teams and people helping to transform economies, environments and communities. 

Jointly funded by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, Pioneering Places focused on four different heritage sites, each of which had been abandoned, fallen into disuse or was otherwise not meeting its full potential for development, cultural or community use. Complementing the main activity, a groundbreaking educational programme, supported by Artswork, helped introduce children and young people to local planning and placemaking through arts and culture and inspired them through heritage.

During the three years of the project, Pioneering Places unlocked these disused or forgotten sites, with a total development and regeneration value to their communities in excess of £39m. As lead partner, Creative Folkestone worked in close partnership with leading cultural and heritage partners in each of the locations, each focused on the ultimate goal of making East Kent a better place to live, work and visit. 

These four locations and project partners included:

The Marlowe theatre Canterbury, which revitalised a Grade II listed 12th Century building, the Marlowe Kit, located in a neglected area within Canterbury’s city walls. The building has been transformed into a thriving place of creativity and learning for young people.

Fort Burgoyne in Dover, identified as heritage-at-risk due to the condition of the site and lack of agreed future use. Project delivery partner in Dover, The Land Trust, acquired this scheduled ancient monument in 2014 with a vision to make the site a key part of the community. 

Working with Turner Contemporary, Pioneering Places empowered 70 primary schoolchildren to activate and regenerate Ramsgate’s east cliff and heritage seafront through commissioning and installing a major new public artwork by internationally-renowned British artist, Conrad Shawcross.

Creative Folkestone worked with local residents, artists, architects, historians and policy makers to re-imagine the abandoned and disused brownfield site of the former Foord Road gasworks, connecting Folkestone Central station with its revived Creative Quarter. This project culminated in the installation of three stunning public artworks as part of the 2021 Triennial and the purchase of the gasworks site by Folkestone and Hythe District Council.

Stuart McLeod, Director England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The Great Place Scheme saw £20million invested across England to help transform local arts and culture in our communities. Pioneering Places is a fantastic example of the success of this Scheme – it had a huge impact for the local communities in East Kent and created a lasting legacy. We’re thrilled to hear its been nominated for an RTPI Award. Investing in heritage such as this still remains a key priority for us today. It improves people’s lives and makes communities better places to live, creating jobs, supporting local economies, driving tourism and improving health and wellbeing.”

This Cultural Placemaking research and knowledge base website was originally developed and launched by project partners and RTPI members, Five10Twelve, as part of the Pioneering Places project and continues as a legacy of the project.

We are delighted to have worked with Creative Folkestone and the project partners and funders in sharing the many success stories of Pioneering Places through this project website and accompanying advocacy programme, culminating in this nomination for the prestigious RTPI Award. This is a great testament to the communities of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Ramsgate who were inspired by these magnificent heritage sites and empowered through arts and culture.

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