Hay-On-Wye: The book town

Hay-On-Wye: The book town

What makes your town unique? Many places are distinctive, but not all have a characteristic that stands out above all other features to become the identity of the town. This can often be a product of an existing strong town character combined with a catalyst such as an entrepreneur with a big idea.

It is often not the intention to create a brand or theme for a town, but this can emerge over time. The most successful distinctiveness strategies are embedded in the physical environment of a town; examples such as Hay-on-Wye and Machynlleth have been successful because of their location and setting.

Distinctiveness can extend beyond the boundaries of a town to the national and international stage. This can create a driving force for a vision that unites the community and can provide economic benefits. However, to achieve this requires commitment, time and support.

 

Hay-on-Wye: The Book Town

Lying in the Wye Valley on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Hay was traditionally a sheep farming town and a stop-over for those travelling to Brecon. In 1963, Richard Booth opened the first second hand bookshop in Hay. The town was an ideal location for an international trade in books- close to Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff for local trade, far enough from London to escape the capital’s influence, and with easy links to Ireland. By the 1970’s over 30 bookshops had opened in the town and today there are over 40. The spin-off Hay Literary Festival has an international reputation and attracts speakers and visitors from around the world. The festival attracted over 200,000 attendees in 2010 and over the course of a year the town and festival attract half a million visitors.

Bookshops are found all over Hay on Wye

Bookshops are found all over Hay on Wye

Machynlleth: A centre for sustainability

In 1973 the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) was founded outside Machynlleth. Growing from a ‘green’ community to a centre for demonstration of eco-friendly research, sustainable development, environmental protection and social inclusion, the site now receives around 65,000 visitors per annum. A focus on Eco-technology has generated new opportunities for employment, enterprise and tourism in the town. CAT directly employs 150 permanent and seasonal staff. It has attracted funding and employment to the town in the green building sector and has sparked green community regeneration projects such as EcoDyfi, a community renewable energy programme and the Dyfi EcoPark.

 

Mold : Slow Towns & slow food

 

Mold Town Centre; c Heritage Initiatives

Mold Town Centre; c Heritage Initiatives

The Cittaslow or slow town movement aims to encourage town residents to live and enjoy life at a human pace through conviviality and sustainability. Cittaslow provides a series of 55 goals that aim to involve the local community in taking practical actions to enhance the environment, infrastructure, local products, hospitality, and profile of a town.

Mold is Wales' first Cittaslow town.  Cittaslow Mold was conceived in October 2006 as its focus on food aligned well with the reputation the town was trying to develop. Once the decision had been made to adopt Cittaslow, the Town Council created a steering group of 15 organisations and many influential individuals that represented the diversity of the town's life. The guiding goals and principles of the movement form the foundation of initiatives, actions and projects across the town. The town now has a regular market and specialist farmers market focussing on local produce, an annual food and drink festival and the Bailey Hill Festival.  The group has also been instrumental in other initiatives in the town including the Mold Spring Clean, the Mold Sense of Place study, More Trees for Mold and funding for many projects across the town.

The international Cittaslow movement fosters economic, social and environmental sustainability. Membership of Cittaslow has brought Mold a range of benefits, including reassuring potential visitors and investors that it is well run and progressive, and unlocking funds from local and central government to help finance local initiatives.

Find out more: http://cittaslowmold.co.uk

 

Posted
AuthorMatthew Jones

Mold’s Sense of Place study was commissioned to gather an understanding of and a better focus for a sense of place.  The project aimed to build on the local distinctiveness of the town and identify how the town could be developed for the benefit of residents, businesses and tourists, following Cittaslow principles.

Mold is Wales’ first Cittaslow town, an international movement to enhance quality of life in small towns, which grew out of the Slow Food movement.  Towns must undergo a strenuous assessment against 75 criteria to be recognised as a Cittaslow town, primarily examining the environment, enforcing identity and place, promotion of healthy living and local produce and active community involvement.  Mold gained Cittaslow status in 2006.

The Sense of Place study examined several aspects of the town: marketing and competitiveness, exploring what assets add to distinctiveness, how effective the retail draw is and what can be done to improve its competitive condition; A townscape character analysis, exploring architecture, character and identity; and a public realm appraisal looking at gateways, public spaces and streets. From this analysis a vision and proposed projects emerged around the themes of Visiting & Shopping, Streets & Places, Activities & Enjoying Mold, and the Heritage of Mold.

Sense of Place has given the town a framework to carry out improvements in Mold, as and when money has become available, such as projects for New Street car park and Daniel Owen Square. It also means that project partners, like Flintshire County Council, are aware of what scope there is for change in the town and its surroundings. The outcome has been a working document that is an integral part of the future of the town.

cittaslowmold.co.uk/

Credits:

  • Client: Cadwyn Clwyd
  • Partners: Flintshire County Council, Cittaslow Mold, and Mold Town Council.
  • Consultants: Heritage Initiatives Ltd, Alan Brown Associates, Harrison Design, Cleaveley Associates
  • image credits: 01 - c Heritage Initiatives; 02 & 03 - c Heritage Initiatives & Harrison Design Development
Posted
AuthorMatthew Jones

The outcome of the Ruthin Market Town of the Future project consisted of a vision and three themes, each with a series of linked projects around the vision:

“Ruthin is a small town with big potential.  The town prides itself on its history, heritage and landscape.  It aims to become a sustainable, creative and connected market town with a high quality built and natural environment.”

 

To achieve this vision, three themes were highlighted:

Public Spaces for Public Life; Creating a Heart for Ruthin:

Outdoor spaces should be the social heart of the town.  These spaces need to be diverse enough to encourage a wide range of activities and be of high quality to reflect the heritage and aspirations of the town.

 

Centre, Periphery & Hinterland:

Creating an attractive and safe network of safe walking and cycling routes linking the historic core and the suburbs and linking the key locations in the town.

 

A Distinctive Ruthin:

Developing Ruthin’s distinctive assets to make it individual and identifiable from other towns and cities.  This is a combination of people, places, ideas, industries, climate, culture, history and a vision for the future. 

An approach of incremental regeneration was proposed- as and when funds become available and not requiring large pots of money to implement.  This offered the town the best chance of pushing forward.  Achieving early wins by incorporating ongoing projects and getting small projects underway was used as a way of gaining momentum for the project and making the community support the vision.

 

Credits:

Posted
AuthorMatthew Jones

Cadw has been developing a method of assessing towns in Wales that aims to show what gives a place its unique identity and provide a baseline assessment of its value and character.  This work is intended to ensure future planning and regeneration strategies strengthen local distinctiveness by identifying what makes a town special.

Posted
AuthorDCFW