The Carbuncle Awards have been running since 2001

The Urban Realm architecture journal, which has organised the Carbuncle Awards since 2001, has announced that the annual process of identifying Scotland’s “most dismal” town will be coming to an end.

Urban Realm contended that the Carbuncle Awards were intended to increase debate on urban policy failures and put pressure on local governments to improve town centres.

They have, however, been subject to growing criticism in recent years. Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Secretary Neil Baxter and Labour MSP Elaine Smith are among those who have described the ‘award’ process as cynical, shallow, negative and damaging.

Urban Realm’s Editor, John Glenday, told the Herald this week that:

“We feel the time is right to relaunch and rebrand. The idea is to re-energise things and make it more relevant. We want to make it more positive, more of a tool to kick start regeneration.”

In welcoming that decision, SURF’s Chief Executive, Andy Milne, said:

“I was pleased to read in the Herald that Urban Realm magazine have finally decided to bring their Carbuncle Awards to an end and that they hope to replace it with a more constructive venture. Awarding a ‘Carbuncle’ to a particular town that is already struggling only damages its prospects. The negative publicity is often not just unfair and under-informed, it stigmatises places, and it discourages people from investing, visiting or living there.

“It almost always ignores and damages all the hard work of local people, businesses and regeneration organisations who are striving to regenerate these places in very challenging circumstances. In contrast, constructive and collaborative initiatives like the SURF Awards identify and highlight successful regeneration activities. They also help us to share practical transferable lessons, which are of real value to all of the people and organisations that SURF links with as they work together to improve their important local places.”

This year, in partnership with Scotland’s Towns Partnership and the Scottish Government, SURF is running a Scotland’s Most Improved Place Award as one of five categories for its Best Practice in Community Regeneration Awards. The 2017 SURF Awards is currently open for applications with a closing date of Monday 18 September.