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Local residents urban design panel shortlisted for a planning award  

A group of local residents who are members of the Barking and Dagenham Urban Design Forum (RUDF) have been shortlisted for a national planning award.

The RUDF, which is a voluntary group of 15 local residents who review developments that may impact on the quality of urban design in the borough, has been shortlisted for the ‘Innovative Use of the Planning Process’ category which is part of the RTPI (The Royal Town Planning Institute) Awards for Planning Excellence 2013.

The RTPI  awards celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society; it highlights exceptional examples of planning and serves to inspire others to achieve the same high standards. The winners of each category will be announced on 10 July at an event to be chaired by the world renowned architect Sir Terry Farrell.

The council worked with the architectural charity Open-City to provide training to the RUDF Members on the value of good design and its importance. The training was tailored specifically to a residents group with no prior knowledge of planning or urban design.

In December 2009, the council piloted the concept of a resident led urban design panel. In 2011, a successful funding bid from the Design Council/CABE enabled the council to formally launch the RUDF in its current form.

Jeremy Grint, Divisional Director for Regeneration said: “We are delighted that the RUDF has been recognised for its input into upcoming significant design projects in the borough. The RUDF has achieved a track record of consistent community involvement in major schemes before they are submitted.

“The intention of the RUDF is a means of opening up the planning and development management process to local people who give their views on design issues in the area where they live and work.

“It’s important for the council that the community plays an integral role in how changes take place across the borough. Through the RUDF, the council is able to demonstrate to its residents that it values local people’s views on important changes that are about to take place.”

Victoria Thornton, Founding Director of Open-City said: "Open-City are pleased that the Residents Urban Design Forum has been shortlisted for the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence, recognising the value of community engagement in the planning process. The RUDF demonstrates how, with some key training, local community members can add real value to the design of our city which is one of the fundamental aims of Open-City."

RUDF member, James Reid, said: "Being a part of the RUDF has been a fantastic opportunity for myself to be an active part of the process of development projects and have a practical input into what is actually considered in the borough. It's highly beneficial not only to residents but also to architects and planners to see things from other points of view and explore ideas and options not necessarily thought of initially to get the very best out of their designs. Not only do I hope that the RUDF continues, but that other councils follow suit."

For more information about the RUDF click here: http://www.lbbd.gov.uk/Environment/planning/Pages/ResidentsUrbanDesignForum.aspx