Shortlist for the Better Places National Awards

Thank you to everyone who nominated entries for this year’s Better Places National Awards. We had an extremely difficult job narrowing down a shortlist from such high quality nominees. Here are the shortlists for each of the four categories: public sector, private sector, the voluntary and community sector and social enterprise sector.


Bargoed Library is part of the ‘Big Idea’ for Bargoed, a deprived town in the South Wales Valleys. With the town’s library due to be demolished to make way for a new retail development, the local council and partners worked with the Hanbury Baptist Chapel – a dilapidated building in the town centre – to turn it into a state-of-the-art education and community hub while retaining its function as a worship space.

Cornwall Works is an example of partnership working to link up services in rural areas. Established by Jobcentre Plus and Cornwall Council, it brings together local projects and programmes to create a hub that has helped more than 10,000 into work or training.

The Cowgate strategy in Newcastle upon Tyne brought together multiple local partners to work together to tackle the problems of the Cowgate estate, the most deprived neighbourhood in Newcastle. Crime has fallen by 50%, void housing has been brought back into use and community cohesion has improved significantly.

Pontypool Park Friends group in Pontypool, South Wales has undertaken numerous activities since it was constituted a year ago – from litter picks to dry stone walling. Set up by Torfaen Council, it has worked closely with local partners and its success has led to the creation of other park ‘friends’ groups across the borough.

Library Lab has turned an under-used space in Willesden Green Library into a free co-working area with a packed programme of workshops to help local people set up their own businesses, write a CV or learn new skills. Set up by Architecture00 and supported by Brent Council, it not only gives would-be entrepreneurs the space to learn and grow but has created a hub for learning and networking, with language exchanges, town team meetings and a pop-up crèche.


A Better Blackheath is a partnership hub created by the Black Country Housing Group in a small deprived town in Sandwell. Working closely with local organisations it has enlarged volunteering in the new local library, helped find a base for the local nursery and supported the church in its expansion plans.

Flooks is a cyber café based in Merthyr Tydfil which is run as a social enterprise by young homeless people, providing them with work experience, confidence and training opportunities.

The We All Do Good Things project in Herne Bay, Kent collected stories of kindness and love from the local community. Artists worked with every section of the community to uncover and celebrate positive stories from bingo halls, schools, residential homes and hairdressing salons. Set up by People United, the project culminated in an exhibition and giant picnic for the community.

The Amble Development Trust has been nominated for its work in Amble, Northumberland. Its Pride of Northumbria social enterprise has purchased a local shop as a base to bring creative arts and enterprises to the high street. It has also launched The Ambler, a free community paper for the town and Amble GPX, a strategy to develop digital enterprise.

SOAR Works is a community-run enterprise centre providing start-up offices, workshops and studios in a deprived area of Sheffield. The scheme, built on a former city council works depot, has been developed by the Southey and Owlerton Area Regeneration (SOAR) and now hosts 30 enterprises as well as providing support and training.

Studio Polpo is an architectural social enterprise based in Sheffield focused on the co-creation of projects with the local community. Its co-projects include The Drawing Shed, a mobile shed that encouraged creative activities in deprived areas and Portland Works, which brought together local partners to save historic workshops from redevelopment.


Cheltenham Connect was one resident’s attempt to recreate the ‘village’ feel in a large town. It has run numerous community events, including a local history project with local primary schools, a major high street renovation and an eco-homes initiative.

Ivybridge Community Plan was instigated by the town council and local community who were concerned about the effect of new housing developments in the Devon town. The community has engaged with developers to generate a vision for the town that accommodates new homes while ensuring the viability of important community facilities.

The NuFutures for Knowsley project from Prescot Oasis has worked with some of the most challenging young people in the borough to offer them training and apprenticeships in garden landscaping. In partnership with Knowsley Housing Trust and others, jobs and apprenticeships have been created through a gardening service for vulnerable older tenants.

Phoenix Park in Thurnscoe is located on a former South Yorkshire colliery. The Land Trust now owns the site and runs it through an endowment which ensures the site is managed for community use. The park is used by numerous local groups including Barnsley Youth Group and the Hesley Group, a residential centre for adults with autism.

The Four Steps to Starting Your Own Business initiative, run by Genesis Housing Association, is based on the Woodberry Down estate in Hackney and helps equip local residents to start their own businesses or social enterprise. In 12 months 11 new businesses have got off the ground, including four social enterprises.


Outset Bristol and Outset Torbay deliver intensive start-up support and enterprise coaching for unemployed people, helping people from groups that are under-represented in enterprise to move into self-employment in Bristol and Torbay. Both tailor their offering to clients’ needs, and deliver programme at the grassroots level in plain language to help those who may never have considered self-employment before. In the Bristol scheme women make up 64% of business starts through the programme, compared to 27% of the self-employed population in the UK. Outset Torbay has supported 85 new businesses, creating 97 jobs.

St Andrews Square is a housing development in west Hull in an area once known as ‘Little Beirut’. Keepmoat has built the first homes in the area for 25 years and the scheme was developed with close engagement the community. Training and jobs for local people was at the heart of development proposals, local schools have been involved and the development was the firm’s fastest selling scheme in the country despite the recession.

Thinktastic Ambitions has been shortlisted for its work developing a new model of enterprise education with primary schools in east central Scotland. Run by Edinburgh firm Thinktastic, through creative sessions such as games and drama it helps children think differently about the future and develop creativity and enterprising attitudes.

Congratulations to all those that made it to the shortlist. We hope to feature many of the entrants – those shortlisted and those not – in New Start over the coming months. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on the eve of the CLES Summit on 3 July.


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Richard Mann
Richard Mann
11 years ago

Well done all of the team for Hanbury. This is a huge acknowledgement for the scheme and is well deserved.

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