Regeneration is a priority across Wales with the government aiming to boost the economy and improve the places people live, work, learn, and socialise. We have worked on many regeneration projects, from industrial to residential settings, and from city centres to small towns. For many, regeneration means finding new uses for brownfield land and big landmark buildings, but it’s far more than this. It’s all about people.
The key to regenerating an area is to engage with the community as much as possible. There’s no other way to truly understand what a place is doing well, what it’s lacking, and how it can be improved. This year, we’ve worked with Chris Jones Studio to hold extensive public consultations in areas such as Maindee, Newport and Llwynhendy, Llanelli. Through these, we get an opportunity to meet the people using the spaces and can truly understand what they need. For example, in Llwynhendy, we liaised with residents, stakeholders, and the town council to create a proposal to turn an outdated library into a community-focused hub.
It's not just the initial public consultation where locals can have their say; the Welsh Government is now putting a huge emphasis on promoting place plans – documents that set out local level planning and development guidance. Generally, these are guided by a group of locals and offer a way for communities to engage with the planning process. Working with Chris Jones, we have been involved with a number of place plans for a range of towns across Wales, from Towyn and Kinmel Bay to Chepstow.
With the current cost of living crisis, boosting the economy is vital. Take Caldicot, for example, where we delivered a shopfront design guide, benefitting the high street and its businesses. In Newport, our residential development on Commercial Street also helped the local economy by creating a desirable place to live, thus bringing more people to live, work, and spend in the centre.
Creating jobs is often a huge focus of regeneration, but there are always multiple aims, and in recent years boosting resident wellbeing is often high on the list. At Maindee in Newport, we’ve had extensive discussions with residents to establish key priorities, which include more spaces to sit out, and areas for young people to play. Practical next steps include creating a green public space, safer road crossing points, and new children’s play facilities. Also high on the priority list was a need for more trees and greenery, and we’re creating green spaces within the area. Not only will this boost wellbeing, but it will help the area to be more sustainable.
We look forward to working with more communities to improve their cities, towns, and villages over the coming years. Each project gives a huge boost to the area and the people who live in it, with the impacts of regeneration being felt for decades to come.