My Place Awards 2024 shortlists announced!

The shortlists for the My Place Awards 2024, which celebrate community-led built environment projects that have transformed their locality, as well as the hard work of the people behind those projects, were announced this Wednesday 24 January. The Awards have two categories: Community-led Projects and Community Champions. The winners of each category will be announced at a ceremony in March.

Community-led Projects

The Community-led Projects category recognises recent community-led built environment projects that have transformed their locality.

The shortlisted projects are:

Alloa Hub

Local authority area: Clackmannanshire

Nominated by: Alloa Hub Ltd

Architect or lead designer: Austin-Smith:Lord

The Alloa community has transformed a derelict public toilet block into a new hub that promotes local identity and active travel. A series of community consultations were undertaken to inform the project, including a bud consultation undertaken by Alloa First identifying key priorities for over 200 local businesses; an Active Travel Survey conducted by Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSI); and Place Standard Principles Survey conducted by CTSI and Clackmannanshire Council in the town centre.

The hub is now run by a Community Benefit Society, and houses a meeting room/workshop, an accessible public toilet, a shower facility to encourage active travel, a flexible retail space promoting local artisans, a sheep’s wool insulation viewing panel and a bespoke display enclave exhibiting the community-stitched Clackmannanshire Tapestry. Externally the Hub features a walled paved area extending the meeting room/workshop (weather permitting), a parking rack for bikes (leisure and commute) and a Forth E-Bike docking station.

An Laimhrig

Local authority area: Highland

Nominated by: Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust

Architect or lead designer: WT Architecture

Eigg’s 115 residents have banded together to upgrade and expand their small, much-loved community hub into a bright, spacious and energy-efficient facility. Feedback from Eigg residents shaped the project brief, which focussed on combining social and business space for residents and visitors alike, ensuring that island living wasn’t separated from the visitor experience.

Today, the main building houses Eigg’s only shop, café/bar, craft shop, adventure sports hire, offices, hot desk and meeting spaces. ‘Taigh Nighe’ (WashHouse) has toilets, showers, a drying room and laundry used by residents, yachts, campers and the community-owned camping pods. There’s signage, parking, and new green spaces for picnics and play. Four new business units and coastguard HQ in the ‘Green Shed’ have completed the transformation. The under-used, ageing agricultural shed now houses a plant room supplying all three buildings’ space and water heating needs.

Craigie Street Pocket Park

Local authority area: Dundee

Nominated by: Stobswell Forum SCIO

Architect or lead designer: Stephen Blacklaw / Stephen Page

Local people have worked together to revamp an area in the Albert Street District Shopping Centre that was previously considered dull and grey, creating a high-quality pocket park in Craigie Street. Residents were involved in developing the plan for the area through both online and on-street consultations and discussions on what they wanted to see at the heart of the community.

Today, the park has pedestrianised part of the local area to encourage active travel and increase the quality public space within the district shopping centre. It now has Dundee’s first rainwater garden, new high-quality seating, signage, public art and cycle parking. Complementary works were also completed in other close-by locations along the shopping street to improve pedestrian access, increase safety and improve the shopping experience. The project has galvanised local spirit, with a majority of people now calling for further regeneration projects to improve their local spaces.

 Inchyra Park

Local authority area: Falkirk

Nominated by: Friends of Inchyra Park

Architect or lead designer: Adam Gillies

Local volunteers have created Inchyra Park, which was once the site of central Scotland’s WWII airport. Whilst the initial aim of the project was to celebrate the site’s history, community input also emphasised the need for additional environmental, health and wellbeing benefits, such as trails, an outdoor gym and other amenities.

By planting a community memorial orchard and wildflower meadow, as well as adding seating, a cycle stand, picnic benches, herb gardens, fruit and vegetable planters, wildlife water holes, sensory plants and raised beds with interpretation boards, they’ve transformed the park into a space for everyone. Since its reopening, the park has hosted volunteering and social events such as Easter Egg hunts, pumpkin events, bike safaris, planting events and wildflower sowing. It also has free wifi, a swing park and a top-up tap for community use.

Leith Community Croft Pavilion

Local authority area: Edinburgh

Nominated by: Earth in Common

Architect or lead designer: Scott Lindsay, Simpson & Brown

The local community in Leith has cleared two acres of debris-stewn wasteland and retrofitted an existing dilapidated tennis pavilion to create Leith Community Croft (LCC), which now benefits thousands of people and provides a home for nature. Through a series of community consultations, which included the option for demolition and building anew, local people strongly indicated their preference to retain, retrofit and extend the existing building to be used for community events and training space. The local design team held multiple meetings on-site to chat through options with local residents and agree on a plan that met their needs.

Today, the site provides shared food-growing plots to about 120 ‘Crofters’ and their families, hots a social enterprise tree nursery, provides horticultural training and fruit and willow trees to help green Leith, maintains a biodiversity/nature-play area and offers picnic facilities and a community cafe. The pavilion now houses offices, a community cafe, prep kitchen, farm shop and a series of lettable community spaces.

The Corner, Darvel

Local authority area: East Ayrshire

Nominated by: Darvel Area Regeneration Team (DART)

Architect or lead designer: Fleming Muir Architects

Local volunteers have converted the former abandoned site of the Darvel Industrial Cooperative Society into a new gathering place for the community. After embarking on a community-asset transfer, DART informed their plans by issuing questionnaires and hosting activity groups with the community. The build process was then entirely managed by a project team of local volunteers, who successfully secured the £500,000 required for the build.

Today, the Corner has a sloping site with upper and lower terraces, with the transitional site becoming an amphitheatre. The lower terrace also contains the Canopy, an all-weather shelter. Since its opening, The Corner has become a popular venue for regular events and markets, as well as a place to just sit and chat. In its first 6 months of operation, it has hosted 12 formal events involving over 200 local vendors and over 4,000 visitors. Events have included a Halloween Special, Christmas Fayre, as well as meetings of Brownies, Scouts, walkers and cyclists.

Community Champions

The Community Champions category celebrates individuals in communities across Scotland who have made a significant contribution to their local area through achieving positive change in the built environment, whether through built heritage, public spaces or access to these by communities. The My Place Community Champion Awards are kindly sponsored by Urban Union.

The shortlisted people are:

Eugenie Aroutchef

Local authority area: South Lanarkshire

Nominated by: Iain Mullholland

Eugenie has developed and runs Grow 73, a charity aiming to help people of all ages and abilities to grow their own produce, learn how to lead more sustainable lives and support local biodiversity. Grow 73 has leased a piece of unused land in Overtoun Park in Rutherglen and has gradually transformed it by adding raised beds, a pond, a nature walk and more. Grow 73 offers this space to volunteers and the local community to meet up and participate in activities and works with local schools and wider organisations to impart their message of the importance of being eco-aware.

Eugenie’s nominator said, “Eugenie has passionately developed this project from its inception to the success it is now. She is committed to the ideal of helping people and the environment to make the world a better place to be. Her drive and determination to challenge bureaucracy and focus on improving her own area and the wider community is commendable.”

Suzanne Douglas

Local authority area: Edinburgh

Nominated by: Nuala Connolly

Suzanne Douglas is Social Impact Officer at Places for People, playing a pivotal role in delivering services to both the customers of Places for People Scotland and the broader community since 2019. Operating primarily from the Hays Community Hub in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, Suzanne has transformed it into a thriving space hosting various community services, all provided free of charge by collaborating organisations. Under her guidance, the hub has become an integral part of the community, with over 900 individuals benefiting from its services since April 2023. Suzanne spearheads several key projects and initiatives from the hub, including Grassroots Clothing – a charity which provides clothes for men seeking employment – as well as Hays Community Pantry, weekly social groups for Syrian and Sudanese communities, a multicultural youth group started by refugees, tapestry and needlework groups, wellbeing sessions, youth groups, digital inclusion sessions, and advocacy drop-in sessions for individuals with addiction or mental health issues. These initiatives have seen substantial participation and positive impact since their inception.

Suzanne’s nominator said, “Suzanne is an outstanding colleague, with this award entry testament to her outstanding contributions to the local communities she serves, with a determination to meet local people’s needs. Through established relationships with community members and key partners, she possesses a keen awareness of existing challenges and persistently strives for positive improvements. Suzanne’s unwavering spirit and determination shine through, even in the face of significant adversity. Her passion for doing what is right, coupled with her commitment and care, distinguishes her in the community, making her truly deserving of recognition and commendation.”

DJ Johnston Smith

Local authority area: East Lothian

Nominated by: Colin Gilmour

DJ has been a leading figure in Prestonpans and is currently Chair of Prestonpans Community Council. Over many years, he has galvanised the community to use the area’s rich heritage as a catalyst for physical, socioeconomic, and general community wellbeing improvements. DJ helped to secure funding for the Preston Seton Gosford (PSG) ward to undertake the Salt of the Earth Initiative, which engaged with over 1000 individuals over a 3 year period to widen the knowledge of the area’s heritage and how this could be used as a further catalyst for change and improvement. DJ was also a key player in the redevelopment of Prestonpans Civic Square which includes the town’s War Memorial, which is due for completion in March 2024. DJ was also instrumental in pushing the local authority to secure funding to address issues at Preston Tower, Doocot and Gardens, which had been inaccessible to the public for over 40 years. Currently, the consolidation works to the tower are complete and a new access stair to the first floor chamber is under construction. DJ’s extensive historical research has also enabled heritage partners to support a pilot heritage in the curriculum project in Cockenzie Primary, enabling young people to explore the rich history on their doorstep. He has also coordinated two successful Doors Open Days events at Preston Tower, engaging 250 people, as well as contributed to the creation of a local heritage map.

DJ’s nominator said, “DJ is respected within the community and by project delivery partners alike and despite many years of being a champion for the community his energy and enthusiasm show no signs of abating. It is almost certain that future projects will continue to be identified, developed, and delivered within Preston Seton Gosford thanks to his desire to ensure that the area’s heritage is not forgotten, but rather harnessed effectively to build a brighter tomorrow.”

Helen Stevenson

Local authority area: Aberdeen

Nominated by: Saskia Fryer

Nursery Manager Helen Stevenson has been leading her team at Bright Horizons at 24 St Swithin Nursery in getting involved in numerous local environmental activities within their community. Helen and her team take the children on weekly visits to maintain trees and planters in Queen’s Terrace Gardens, as well as planters within a local care home. Herself and the nursery children have also been yarn bombing, which is decorating an outdoor area with decorative knitted or crocheted material, as a form of street art. Helen has also led the nursery in joining the Eco-Schools programme in Scotland, which is designed to teach children the importance of protecting the planet and how to be more environmentally friendly. Other eco-activities that Helen and the children have done are litter picking, recycling used paper to make new paper, documenting and weighing food waste to reduce the nursery’s food waste and recycling toys, books and clothes amongst the children.

Helen’s nominator said, “Helen has provided a valuable experience for the children to be a part of the community in Aberdeen and to learn to appreciate nature. Helen’s and the children’s hard work has ensured that the Queen’s Terrace Gardens is kept clean for the community to use. The team at 24 St Swithin Nursery have been so supportive and passionate about maintaining Queen’s Terrace Gardens and their continuous enthusiasm in improving the green space for their community in Aberdeen demonstrates how Helen and her team deserve to win the Scottish Civic Trust My Place Community Champion Award.”