Last night (Wednesday 8 November), urbanists from across the UK and Europe gathered at the Blue Fin Building, Southwark, for the Urbanism Awards Ceremony. Following a programme of public nomination, member-led shortlisting panels and in-person finalist assessment visits, the Academy of Urbanism (AoU) announced the winning Great Place, Great Street, Great Neighbourhood, Great Town, European City of the Year for 2023.

Representatives from 13 of the 14 shortlisted places attended the event, where finalists were celebrated by poems, written and performed by Poet-in-Residence Ian McMillan, accompanied by illustrations by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU. Great Town finalist Stromness was represented in spirit, as a local event prevented in-person attendance.

All 2023 Urbanism Awards finalists can be found here.

The Great Place 2023: 

Claypits Local Nature Reserve, Glasgow

Claypits Local Nature Reserve in Hamiltonhill, Glasgow, won the first award of the night for Great Place 2023. 

Lead assessor Francis Newton said: “The Claypits Local Nature Reserve has transformed derelict, post-industrial land into a valued community asset. It demonstrates exceptional sustainable design and climate adaptation, with its ‘smart canal’, sustainable urban drainage, and measures to enhance biodiversity. Beyond its strong environmental credentials, the project greatly promotes connectivity, permeability, and legibility within its urban context. All this is being achieved through close collaboration with local communities and between the various project partners.”

The other finalists in this category were Gloucester Docks, Gloucester and Spanish City, Whitley Bay.

Illustration by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU

The Great Street 2023:

Venn Street, Clapham

Clapham’s Venn Street was awarded the Great Street title for 2023.

Co-Lead Assessor Katy Neaves said: “The recent improvements to Venn Street have created a vibrant new area of sustainable public realm which provides an oasis off the congested Clapham High Street.  A supportive local authority and the shared vision of owners and tenants have helped Venn Street fulfil its potential to thrive, now offering a wide variety of uses and activities to a diverse customer base. From its weekly food market, cinema, and live music venue, to its restaurants and shops, Venn Street proves how changing a small but well-connected street can have a ripple effect across the whole neighbourhood.”

The other Great Street finalists were Duke Street Dennistoun, Glasgow and St Peter’s Lane, Canterbury.

Illustration by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU

The Great Neighbourhood 2023:

Leith Shore, Edinburgh

The third award of the night, The Great Neighbourhood, was given to Leith Shore in Edinburgh.

Lead assessor Carol MacBain said: “Leith Shore is a prime example of the roles connectivity and community play in the success of a neighbourhood. The Leith Connections Project, alongside the new Edinburgh tram extension, and prioritisation of active travel are helping create rapid, sustainable transport links. Meanwhile the strength of community interest and the shared objectives of the Council have created a strong environment for community wealth building - from public realm improvements to youth centres and accessibility initiatives. ‘Leithers’ are rightly proud of their heritage and the work being done, and the area is decidedly on the way up.”

The other finalist in the category was Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

The Great Neighbourhood is sponsored by JTP.

Illustration by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU

The Great Town 2023:

Stromness, Orkney Islands

Stromness, in the Scottish Orkney Islands, was crowned The Great Town 2023. Ruby Merriman from the Stromness Community Development Trust shared some virtual words of thanks.

Lead assessor Tim Challans said: “For a town populated by around two thousand people, Stromness punches way above its size and weight. It has huge aspirations and ambitions, welcoming world class research and international companies and residents. It is home to world leading technology development in the ocean energy sector and has a thriving community and cultural scene, with particular excellence in modern and contemporary art. It is no surprise that Orkney residents have been named the happiest and most content in the UK, as their strong community buy in drives these successes.”

The other Great Town finalists were Belper, Derbyshire and Caernarfon, Gwynedd.

Illustration by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU

European City of the Year 2023:

Amersfoort, Netherlands

Amersfoort in the Netherlands was awarded the final title of the evening, European City of the Year 2023.

Co-Lead Assessor Jon Phipps said: “Amersfoort benefits from a shared a long-term vision for the city which prioritises improving citizens’ quality of life. Well-resourced forward planning, development control, and regeneration teams enable this vision through detailed policies and impressive new infrastructure, while maintaining its unique heritage and character. The wellbeing and happiness of all of citizens is clearly the focus, from moves to limit car access to the historic city centre, to the provision of diverse and good quality affordable homes.”

The other finalists for European City of the Year 2023 were Estepona, Spain and Exeter, England.

Illustration by Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin AoU

The AoU would like to thank all finalists for their collaboration on the 2023 Urbanism Awards programme, along with the supporting, Deputy, and Lead Assessors who conduct the reporting in each category.

Find out more about the Urbanism Awards here.

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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