The work of Hughes Architects in helping form and develop a Place Plan for Newtown, Powys, has been recognised at a prestigious planning conference.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) held its Spring Conference in North Wales last Friday (30 March) and invited Doug Hughes, Principal Architect, and Managing Director of the practice, along with Richard Lewis, Architect, and Director.
The conference was attended by leading planners, architects, and others involved in the private and public sectors.
Doug and Richard have been heavily involved in developing ideas and plans to support the architectural, economic, and social development of Newtown, the largest town in Powys, Wales.
"We were very honoured to be asked to demonstrate how we have worked with the community we are based in to help guide and secure its built and economic environment," said Doug who has been heavily involved in economic development in Mid Wales and currently sits on a Mid Wales Growth Fund business panel.
"We wanted to show how, by working with a community, you can identify ways developing a town by understanding the needs now and in the future of its people and businesses."
Doug and Richard presented their work from more than 10 years ago with I Love Newtown, an initiative that engaged with more than 5,500 people in Newtown through public and online events and came up with architectural ideas to support the town.
At the core of the initiative was securing Newtown's built heritage while developing future plans and opportunities to support economic growth and social needs.
Hughes Architects undertook the work without any public funding, with up to £30,000 of its own time used in the project.
Securing the future built environment for all
Doug said: "We invested over 10000 hours of community time in the vision. As a business we probably invested between £25,000 and £30,000 of our time gratis on this endeavour but the outcome was everything we hoped for. It got planning, architecture and the built environment on the map.
"With every town meeting to discuss the, we had 100s of people attend. We had critical dialogue and challenge on key subjects but that’s the whole point of this process. We do not have the answers to all questions and the best outcome for me is that the community cares and knows it has a voice. We got people, drawings, designing and planning. ILN had done its job.
"It took us a long time to get us to this stage and for us the journey was over. I never believe in outstaying my welcome and when something has served its purpose it is time to move on. A plan had been produced, was supported by the community and was submitted as part of evidence for the next LDP."
The eventual plans and ideas made headlines throughout the region and caused wider debate.
It helped lead to the Newtown Place Plan, spearheaded by the town council, and confirmed by Powys County Council as part of its future planning policy in the town.