About Shape My Town


Welcome to Shape My Town.  This practical toolkit will inspire you to play a part in shaping the places that matter to you.  It will give you the tools and ideas to change and improve your town, village or public place in Wales.


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What is Shape My Town?

Shape My Town is an online toolkit for anyone wishing to investigate the quality of their place, town, village or neighbourhood before investing time and money in improving it.

It is a ‘how to’ guide giving you the tools to explore your place, identify what makes it unique and to plan for its future.

  • Get together!  Join with people in your community and set up a Town Team
  • Explore!  Investigate the quality of your place, town, village or neighbourhood
  • Make your voice heard!  A clear plan for your place will help you communicate and implement your vision.  It will help you talk to your Council, Local Authority or a developer, and will be useful if you’re looking for funding.
  • Take a look at the Townloads; they’re free to download, so you can print them out or email them to fellow Town Team members.
  • Be inspired! Check out our case studies and blog to inspire you and your community to make a difference to your town.
  • Plus, there are lots of practical tips and links to get you connected and help you along the way.
  • Tell us what you’re up to.  Let us know about any events or projects you are involved in.  We’d love to hear from you.


Follow Shape My Town’s four steps to make an impact in your area:

Step 1: Getting Started

Step 2: Studying Your Town

Step 3: Comparing Your Town

Step 4: Making a Plan for Your Place


Who is Shape My Town for?

  • Individuals or groups who want to improve their local environment – the buildings, parks, streets or squares - in their neighbourhood.  It doesn't have to be a town
  • People excited about the future of their town or place
  • Local business groups aiming to influence a strategy for their town centre
  • Town Councils or Local Authorities preparing a local plan or responding to a planning consultation
  • Developers seeking better understanding of a place in which they are investing
  • Individuals or communities with new development likely in their area
  • Warning: Not For NIMBYs!*

*Not In My Back Yard


Why should I get involved?

87% of people agree that better quality buildings and public spaces can improve quality of life [1], and good quality design has been demonstrated to “enhance the well-being of inhabitants of towns” and “strengthen community, improve social and physical health, and increase civic engagement.” [2]

Many small towns have a strong sense of community purpose, but local people are often not actively engaged in planning or development processes.  By getting involved you can make a difference.

In Wales, each Local Authority prepares a Local Development Plan (LDP), setting out the proposals and policies for future development in their area based on economic, social and environmental data.  Welsh Government’s ‘Regeneration of Town Centres’ report recommends that within the framework of the Local Development Plan, individual towns should have a comprehensive plan in place, developed by a partnership of stakeholders and the community. [3]

The Welsh Government has identified “the physical quality of the town and its rural area” [4] as a key component in successful, dynamic small towns.  In its recent regeneration strategy, it aims for “vital and vibrant places”. [5]  Taking this lead, Shape My Town gets people thinking about their local built environment, buildings and the spaces between them; and inspires them to make a difference.

Shape My Town builds on work understanding the physical character of a place, developed through the Design Commission for Wales’ publication ‘My Square Mile’, and ‘Ruthin: Market Town of the Future’, an award-winning community-led town planning project run by Design Research Unit Wales at the Welsh School of Architecture.


Be Inspired by...  Ruthin: Market Town of the Future

Bringing together the local community, architects, planners and specialists to evaluate the North Wales market town, this project was community-led through real public consultation.  Click here to find out more.


What will I achieve?

Big rewards can come from getting involved in the planning of your town.  A community-led plan for your place offers the opportunity for the people who know a town best to create their own vision for it.  Shape My Town enables people and communities to get to know more about the quality of their neighbourhood before investing time and money in improving it.  Through gathering information, mapping, measuring and consultation with local people, you can appraise your town; giving you the evidence you need to produce a plan for your place.  Then you can use Community Planning to generate and implement your vision.  The process will allow you to:

  • Influence the decisions that shape the future of a town
  • Propose where new projects might be located, and what these might be
  • Engage the community and encourage action
  • Access resources for community projects that may otherwise be unavailable
  • Create opportunity for dialogue with the local Council or a developer


How long will it take?

The timescale will depend on:

  • the scope of what you hope to achieve
  • the resources available in your town
  • the extent of community engagement
  • the Council or local community structures already in place
  • the level of knowledge and evidence readily available

Studying your town and developing a community-led plan could take anywhere from a few months to a year.  However, implementing the plan will take considerably longer, as it should be forward looking with long term ambitions.


What will it cost?

Costs will vary depending on the scale of what you want to achieve, what resources are available to you, and how much specialist help you will need.  You might be able to get funding for all or part of your project.  Check out our list of potential funding sources to see what’s available.


Start using the toolkit: Happy shaping!


[1] Ipsos Mori, 2009, quoted in CABE, ‘National Planning Policy Framework’

[2] Suzanne Lennard, quoted in Paul Knox & Heike Meier, ‘Small Town Sustainability’ p87

[3] National Assembly for Wales Enterprise and Business Committee: ‘Regeneration of town centres’, p37

[4] WAG, ‘Dynamic Smaller Towns: Identification of critical success factors p5

[5] Welsh Government, ‘Vibrant and Viable Places: New regeneration framework’ p4