Shaping Conwy's Communities Pilot Study: Llandudno

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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 the tools for community groups to explore their place, identify what makes it unique and to plan for its future. Shape My Town was developed by Coombs Jones Architects and the Design Commission for Wales (DCFW) with support from Cardiff University, and was launched in spring 2014.

In early 2016, the Welsh Government awarded £10,000 each to several local authorities in Wales to assist with progression of Place Plans. The money was to be used by the authorities to gain further understanding of:

—> Links between community planning and LDPs; —> The potential of more effective links between both processes to improve the content of the

—> Current barriers and opportunities for connecting with the community; —> Action to be taken to make it easier to align with the community and provide a more effective

LDP and Place Plans;

engagement process.

Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) used their funding to commission Design Commission for Wales and Coombs Jones to produce a bespoke toolkit for the development of Place Plans, based on the Shape My Town toolkit; Conwy County Borough Council (CCBC) are in the process of commissioning a similar toolkit called Shaping Conwy’s Communities.

The Shaping Conwy’s Communities & Shape my Brecon Beacons toolkits


In parallel to this, Culture Action Llandudno (CALL) CIC, a social enterprise group based in Llandudno, have been working on an Arts Council for Wales ‘Ideas: People : Places’ regeneration project. This social enterprise brings together Helfa Gelf and Mostyn Estates with the aim of putting the town’s rich cultural history at the heart of the evolution of Llandudno. The 3-year regeneration programme is initiating dialogue between artists and the community to develop social and cultural experiences in order to improve long term economic and civic prosperity and re-purpose unused buildings. The aim of this pilot project is to engage the CALL community group in an interactive place-planning exercise with the potential to inform their ‘Lost Spaces’ regeneration project and/or contribute towards a Place Plan for Llandudno. The workshop ‘tested’ a draft version of the Shaping Conwy’s Communities toolkit so that feedback can inform revisions for the final version. Conwy CBC provided a sample pack of information they would offer to communities undertaking a Place Plan.

CALL’s Cultural Mapping of Llandudno



This report outlines the process and outcomes of the community-led workshop held in Llandudno on 12th June 2017. The workshop aimed to guide participants through the Shaping Conwy’s Communities process, with a particular emphasis on the evidence building phase of the toolkit. In small groups, participants tackled one of four themes: Context & Setting; People & Place; Buildings & Facilities; Life Between Buildings.


Participants meet at venue


Introduce Shape My Town & Shaping Conwy Communities

11:30 Workshop 1 : Themes 4 x parallel groups (approx. 5 participants each) Work through the toolkit themes 12:45

Lunch break


Workshop 2 : SWOT analysis 4 x parallel groups (approx. 5 participants) SWOT analysis, key issues to address and priorities Identifying possible future projects


Reporting back – steps to a vision


Summary and key points






Town Council, Friends of West Shore, County Councillor (responsible for Venue Cymru, events and culture)

—> G erry Sweeney

Friends of Happy Valley, Llandudno In Bloom

—> C arol Sweeney B+B owner

—> W endy Couling

Artist with studio in Llandudno

—> E dward Hiller

Mostyn Estates/CALL

—> B rian Howes CALL

—> S abine Cockrill CALL

—> H oney Jones Hughes CALL

—> N icole Watson CALL

—> C live Wolfendale

—> Owen Veldhuizen Cartrefi Conwy

—> R ay Khan

Local resident

—> T om Kyffin


—> A veline Kyffin Resident/artist

—> J anet Howarth

Gogarth residents association, former town councillor

—> A ngie O’grady

Town Council, (Tudno Ward)

—> G avin Mart

3rd Space (events space with local brewery)

—> M ark Pavey

Town Councillor (Penrhyn Ward), Local musician

—> L aura Crawford

Local resident (disabled, u3A group, Craig Y don Art Group)




The aim of the first session was to gather evidence about the town as it is now. By developing a good understanding of the current context, a vision, next steps and framework of projects can be founded on a solid evidence base. Participants in the session were split into groups to work through the four themes of the toolkit: Theme 1: Context & Setting Theme 2: People & Place Theme 3: Buildings & Facilities Theme 4: Life Between Buildings

The shape my town workshop in progress



Llandudno is fortunate to have fantastic landscapes and coastlines and to be close to the mountains of Snowdonia National Park. In this section participants were asked to think about the sense of place in the town – what makes it special and why it looks the way it does – as well as the people who live there. 1—Landscape The town occupies a magnificent setting, located at the eastern end of Conwy Bay with curving sandy bays to the south and east. It has a unique setting on an isthmus linking the Welsh mainland to the Great Orme. The town occupies a generally flat area of land between the Great Orme, Little Orme and Bryn Pydew. The town has two beaches and access to fantastic landscape around the town and Snowdonia beyond. The approach from the Little Orme is particularly memorable. While there is little risk of flooding from rivers and streams, the town is at risk of tidal flooding. Central areas around Mostyn Street and West Parade have a risk of flooding of more frequently than 1 in 20 years, while areas around Lloyd Street and Builder Street have a risk of between 1 in 20 years and 1 in 50 years. Slightly separated from the town are Gogarth, Llanrhos, Craigside and the town is close to a number of larger villages and towns such as Colwyn Bay, Deganwy, Rhos-on-Sea, Glawyddan and Penrhyn-side. While a freestanding town, it is also well connected to the surrounding areas. The town is on the fringes of the Snowdonia National Park. The Great Orme is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Country Park, Heritage Coast and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are a number of species which are only found here, including the Wild Cotoneaster, and it is home to several endangered species of moth and butterfly.

Workshop mapping showing important features of the town


2—Cultural Heritage & History The locale has been inhabited since the stone age and the Great Orme is the site of Neolithic copper mines. In the medieval period it consisted of three townships: Y Gogarth, Y Cyngreawdr and Yr Wyddfid, and for several hundred years the majority of people worked in the copper mines, agriculture and fishing. Between the 1850s and 1870s the town was developed as a tourist resort by the Mostyn Estate and architect Owen Williams, facilitated by the growth of railways and their arrival in the town in 1858. Much of the town was completed over a 70-year period ending at the first world war. The pier was built in 1876, Happy Valley Gardens in the 1880s, the Oriel Mostyn in 1901 and the Great Orme tram in 1902. Further description of the history of the town can be found in CCBC’s ‘Llandudno: Conservation Area Appraisal’. The seaside town is arranged on a grid pattern between the north shore and west shore. The layout makes good use of the seafronts while the main shopping street runs parallel to the north beach. However, the town lacks a focal point such as a central market square or public space.

Workshop mapping exploring the town’s history, drawn over a historic map of the town

3—Distinctiveness The town’s distinctive feature is its role as one of Wales’ most well preserved and most successful seaside resorts. Tourism remains important to the town despite the growth of foreign holidays since the 1960s.




In this section, participants were asked to think about the people and services that contribute to the town and the well-being of the community. This is the state of being comfortable, happy and healthy, and depends in part on how well the educational, cultural, housing, health, employment and leisure needs of the community are met. 1—People and demographics Census data (2011): Population: 20,700 The town has marked contrasts between different wards. While generally the population of Llandudno is educated to a higher level than the average for Wales, in some wards this is dramatically lower than the average. Similarly, some wards have a high proportion of households earning below the UK median wage. The town is not ethnically diverse. The borough has a lower percentage of children (0-14) than the Welsh national average, but a higher percentage of older people (60+).

2—Economy & Employment Llandudno’s economy is primarily tourism based, with a large portion of jobs in the retail, hospitality and service sectors. The peak and trough of the tourist season sees an increase in part time or seasonal jobs during the summer; however, Llandudno is increasingly an all year-round resort fuelled by a growth in UK short breaks; the town has the largest concentration of tourism related jobs in Wales focussed around the town1.

1 See North Wales Daily Post, More tourism jobs in Llandudno than anywhere else in Wales. Available at [accessed 20/06/17]


3—Public & Community Services As the map illustrates, the town is well served with a variety of community facilities including a hospital, community centres, leisure centre, pool, theatre, museum and archive, art gallery and library. Sports clubs include rugby, football, sailing and cricket. There are a variety of opportunities for the young, including scouts and guides, youth clubs, cadets and D of E. Within the town are a number of schools at primary level (Ysgol Yr Wyddfid, Ysgol San Sior, Ysgol Tudno, Ysgol Craig Y Don and Ysgol Y Gogarth) and secondary level (Ysgol John Bright).

4—Tourism As highlighted in section 2 above, tourism is vital to the long-term future of the town. Attractions include the Great Orme, the North Shore, pier (the longest in Wales), Happy Valley, Haulfre Gardens, trams, West Shore and cultural attractions such as the Mostyn Gallery.

Workshop mapping of people, demographics and community facilites




This theme explores the buildings that make up the town and how the community functions within its environment. This theme asked participants to consider the facilities available for local people, housing provision, the impact of climate change and areas in need of improvement or regeneration. 1—Buildings & Retail There exists a wide variety of buildings in Llandudno. There is a consistency in the scale and height of buildings across the town, particularly along the sea front and main streets behind. Important buildings on corner sites are often larger, for example the National Westminster Bank. There are a substantial number of buildings listed as of architectural or historical interest. The majority of these are concentrated along the sea front. A Conservation Area covers a large area of the town: from the pier as far as the Parade, Craig Y Don, and inland to include most of the town centre and the centre of Craig Y Don. The original Conservation Area, designated in 1974, was extended in 1978 and again in 1987. Conwy CBC’s Conservation Area Appraisal has further information about the conservation area and its character2. Within the heart of the town, buildings are generally smooth rendered and painted. Elevations are often enhanced with intricate detail, for example cornices, moulded door and window surrounds and architraves. Bay windows are common, many of the retail premises have decorative ironwork, verandas and canopies that are an important to the character of the town. There are identifiable problems with upkeep and maintenance of buildings in some areas; underuse of upper floors; poor quality shopfronts and signs, and a few sites in longstanding disrepair or neglect.

2 Conwy CBC, Llandudno: Conservation Area Appraisal. Available at: [accessed 20/06/17]


2—Housing In Llandudno, 27.8% of homes are detached, 31.3% are semi detached, 16.5% are terraced and 14.3% are flats (the remainder are commercial buildings, shared accommodation or mobile structures). Compared to the Welsh average, there is a lower proportion of terraced homes and a higher proportion of flats3). Median house prices are the highest in the borough at £155,000, 6.5 times the average wage, while the average rental price is less than 30% of the median wage. 4 Based on the Cartrefi Conwy and First Steps waiting lists, 395 new social or intermediate homes are needed in the town.5

Workshop mapping exploring important zones of the town

3 Conwy CBC, Conwy Local Housing Market Assessment. Available at: Assesssment_Eng_81.pdf p.12 [accessed 20.06.17] 4

Ibid, p24

5 Ibid, p55



Public space is all around us and we use it every day: the streets we use to get to work or to shops, the parks where we walk the dog, the playground where children play, the corners where you bump into friends, recreation spaces such as allotments and sports pitches, and the squares used for festivities and markets. This theme asked participants to consider how successful public space around the town is and what could be improved. 1—Access & Connections The town is well connected by road across the north Wales coast via the A55. Arrival is clearly marked from the A55 but other routes into the town are less welcoming. Parking is a mix of on street parking and car parks, P identified on the map. There are a number of car parks and a coach park, but long term parking is often congested. Access to Victoria Centre car park was noted as important and the coach park is in need of clear visitor information. The town is reliant on car access and coach visitors are an important aspect of the tourist economy. Public transport is less successful; buses serve the town but connections beyond the town are difficult using motorised public transport. Bus connections are difficult at night and the time needed to travel to other places may limit options to look for work. The town has a railway station which is centrally located, but trains finish at 21:45.

Workshop mapping showing traffic routes and parking


2—Public Spaces, parks and green spaces The town has a variety of public spaces that are generally maintained in good condition. These range from the wide promenade to formal gardens and spaces such as Happy Valley to municipal parks and small scale outdoor spaces. Within the town, there is no formal square. However, there are small public spaces, such as in front of the church and the beachfront promenade. CCBC keep landscape spaces in good condition. Llandudno in bloom helps to maintain an attractive appearance to the town.

3—Streetscape The town centre has wide footpaths that are well maintained in most cases, although there are some trip hazards where paving is damaged. The kerbs are high and although there are dropped kerbs they need to be more frequent. This is particularly important with the number of people using mobility scooters around the town. The condition of benches and planters is generally good within the town centre. These are frequent and some are covered. These are relatively unique to the town, with plaques and a similar style used throughout. The shelters along the promenade are dated and in need of replacement. There is a high volume of sign posting which can be confusing and a number of locations with poles but no signs. A signage audit would be useful to assess how this could be simplified.

Workshop mapping exploring public spaces


WORKSHOP 2: SWOT ANALYSIS AND PROJECT IDEAS The aim of the second session was to try to make sense of the evidence collected during the first part of the day and to generate ideas for Llandudno. Part 1: SWOT analysis A simple way of bringing together and making sense of the information collected is to do a SWOT analysis. This is an easy method of evaluating a place under four headings: STRENGTHS: what is successful and what sets your place apart from others? WEAKNESSES: what is missing, unsuccessful or could be improved, or what puts your place at a disadvantage? OPPORTUNITIES: where is there chance for change or are there external factors that offer a chance to make improvements? THREATS: are there conditions that are harmful to the success or character of your place or that could damage its chances to improve? Can anything be done to address or neutralise these? The group was asked to consider these questions:

—> —> —> —>

How can we build on our strengths? How can we improve our weak areas? How can we take advantage of opportunities? How can we address each threat?



Strengths —> The beauty of the natural bay enclosed by Great Orme and Little Orme, limiting settlement spread —> A reputation that appeals to visitors, both international and domestic - a growing reputation that attracts tourism, supported by a range of hotels and guest houses

—> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —>

Proximity to Snowdonia and the hinterland Tourist attractions: the promenade, trams, pier, cable car, copper mines, camera obscura Clean air and well maintained green spaces A Victorian seaside town with townscape uniformity and beauty Flat and accessible; safe A good range of existing community facilities A viable high street that is largely well maintained at street level A good cultural life: artists, Mostyn Gallery, theatre, archaeology Rail link Active Town Council

Weaknesses —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —>

Could be described as provincial in outlook; town ‘offer’ is dated Low percentage and out migration of young people Flood risk Some listed buildings not maintained Lack of a coherent marketing brand or tourism strategy Lack of public transport infrastructure and it is expensive Short term and zero hours contracts - a lack of secure jobs in the town, resulting in some out-commuting Lack of diversity Lack of family housing and flats for downsizers Limited resources for community groups Problems with parking Confusing signage in places Poor Wi-Fi signal (although it is improving) Artists an afterthought Ageing population and tourist demographic, with lack of tourist infrastructure (e.g. public WCs) Some attractions have a limited opening season Lack of drop kerbs and some paving in poor state of repair


Opportunities —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —>

Redevelopment of empty buildings, particularly hotels, possibly through a community interest model Economic growth from a low base offers opportunities National & international recognition, which could be capitalised upon with a tourism and cultural strategy Emerging planning policy to engage communities, e.g. Place Plans Increasing levels of independent businesses Pier Pavilion site redevelopment Traffic calming in town centre, one way system Opportunity for weekly market Ageing population More indoor civic space Increasing levels of remote or home working The possible opportunity offered by Brexit and the weak pound Empty premises above shops Opportunities presented by CALL and Ideas People Places funding to explore the town through artistic activity, including the potential of the Tabernacle Chapel as a space for the community

—> What is a 21st century Victoriana?

Threats —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —> —>

Lack of cooperation with neighbouring towns Possible impact of gentrification Possible increasing frequency of flooding Pier Pavialion site redevelopment Depopulation of young people and ‘brain drain’ Development of other neighbouring areas Complacency Lack of parking deterring visitors Overdevelopment Limited engagement with local authority Lack of investment Potential impact of Brexit


PART 2: PROJECT IDEAS Participants were asked to identify a small number of projects that would have a big impact on the place. The group was asked to consider both small scale projects that could be done with limited funding or by local people as well as larger transformational projects. The following is a list of projects suggested:


Summer cinema, street performances and events

2. Develop an all year-round resort: Increase Winter tourist offer and opportunities, eg: ice rink at the lido, improved Christmas market in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas; opportunity to develop a winter garden (e.g. Eden Project) on Pier Pavilion site 3. Community arts projects: from school age upwards to the elderly, developing arts and community-led projects that encourage ownership of the town and community cohesion. 4. Disappearing history: an oral history project to collect memories and personal histories of people and place 5. Low cost studios and business start-up spaces to broaden the spectrum of opportunities in the town and prevent ‘brain drain’ 6. Bin clean-up day: involving community groups, emergency services, youth groups and Town Council in enhancing the public realm 7.

Britain in Bloom: Let’s win it!

8. Improved paving: Increased accessibility, reduced trip hazards, enhance appearance of the town. This could be instigated as a community event to highlight problem areas 9. A weekend festival involving community and sports groups, e.g. Festival of Wind, a kite festival which could include music, sports such as kite surfing, wake boarding etc. In addition, more community-led events such as street parties could be encouraged. 10.

Shop front improvements


Bathing Beauties: regenerate the prom with shelters and WCs by creative practitioners


Roundabout art: Art or planting on traffic islands through the town


Improve public toilets


Plant wildflowers at sides of roads


Buses across town for local residents with mobility issues


Update the drain system


Japanese tea house in Happy Valley


More things for young people (not sport based activities)

19. A creative hub in a central location that could act as an alternative venue (comedy, music, film, dancing, community groups) for all ages


NEXT STEPS This report records the outcome of one day of thinking about the town with an invited group of interested people. It represents a snap shot of people’s thoughts and ideas for the future of the town. A next step to develop this would be to carry out further engagement with a wide cross section of the community. This could be in the form of artist-led engagement and creative activity, drop in consultation sessions, exhibitions of ideas or householder surveys. Identifying difficult to reach groups, for example the elderly or very young, is vital to get a rounded view. There is potential to draw together the work presented here and the activity of both CALL and the Town Council into a body of work that could form the basis of a considered strategy for the town. This could form the basis of a Place Plan; to achieve this, a number of steps would be required:


he foundation of a clearly constituted local community place T plan team


ontinued development of an evidence base upon which a vision, C framework and projects can be founded


close engagement with CCBC, particularly if the project was to A be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and have statutory power


Wide engagement with the community