Newtown in Powys is a historic market town nestled in the heart of Mid Wales. It has always been known for its rich history in the flannel industry and more recently manufacturing, as well as its stunning surrounding natural beauty.
However, like many towns in rural Wales, Newtown faced challenges in terms of urban planning and development.
That was until Hughes Architects launched the "I Love Newtown" initiative several years ago.
The project not only brought forward fresh design ideas for the town but also played a pivotal role in shaping a comprehensive Place Plan by the town council which was approved a couple of years ago.
More recently, it was featured at a presentation given to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Spring Conference in North Wales as an exemplar in how to engage with a local community on architectural and planning matters.
In this blog post, we will explore how the "I Love Newtown" initiative has transformed the town and revitalized its sense of community.
The Birth of "I Love Newtown"
"I Love Newtown" was born out of the desire by Doug Hughes, Managing Director and Principal Architect at Hughes Architects, to celebrate the town's unique character and heritage while envisioning a vibrant future.
Doug and fellow director and architect, Richard Lewis, recognised the potential for transformative change and took the lead in developing innovative design concepts that would benefit both residents and visitors alike.
Engaging the Community
A crucial aspect of the initiative was engaging with the local community. Hughes Architects organised awareness of the project allowing residents to share their aspirations and concerns.
This inclusive approach ensured that the ideas generated were a true reflection of the community's desires, creating a strong sense of ownership and pride among Newtown's inhabitants.
Design Ideas for Newtown
The "I Love Newtown" initiative introduced a plethora of design ideas aimed at enhancing the town's visual appeal, functionality, and overall quality of life. Some of the key proposals included:
a) Improved Public Spaces: The scheme emphasized the creation of inviting public spaces, such as pedestrian-friendly zones, landscaped parks, and vibrant gathering areas. These rejuvenated spaces not only fostered social interaction but also provided opportunities for local businesses to thrive.
b) Sustainable Architecture: Hughes Architects promoted sustainable architecture, incorporating eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient designs. Their vision encompassed green roofs, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting systems, minimizing the town's environmental impact while embracing a more sustainable future.
c) Heritage Preservation: Recognizing the significance of Newtown's historical assets, the initiative highlighted the importance of preserving and restoring heritage buildings. By seamlessly blending modern functionality with traditional aesthetics, Newtown would retain its unique charm while adapting to contemporary needs.
The Place Plan
The impact of the "I Love Newtown" initiative went beyond a mere collection of design ideas. It played a vital role in shaping a comprehensive Newtown Place Plan for the town. This plan provided a cohesive framework for future development, encompassing infrastructure improvements, economic growth strategies, and cultural initiatives.
The Place Plan, incorporating the ideas generated through "I Love Newtown," acted as a blueprint for a prosperous and sustainable future.
"I Love Newtown" has proven to be a pioneering initiative, led by Hughes Architects. Through an inclusive and community-driven approach, the scheme has successfully generated innovative design ideas.
Newtown's transformation serves as a testament to the power of visionary thinking, collaborative efforts, and a deep-rooted love for one's town. With "I Love Newtown" as an inspiration, other communities can embark on similar journeys.
As mentioned earlier, it was featured at the RTPI Spring Conference. See the full story here.