We are lucky to be a very active Society and are involved in a range of projects. Below are just some of our current projects, if you too would like to get involved just let us know.
You can read about our past successes and projects by reading our newsletters which can be found by clicking here.
When the Civic Society was revitalised it was apparent that it needed a much better understanding of the distinctive character of the town if it was to comment on planning proposals. An appraisal of the central Conservation Area had been prepared by consultants for the County Council, but the character of the rest of the town, including Mardy and Llanfoist, was unrecorded and probably under-appreciated.
Luckily the Civic Trust for Wales had received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for a project to develop a manual and toolkit that would enable communities to conduct their own urban character surveys and analyses. We seized the opportunity to be one of three pilot projects and, following a trial survey of Chapel Road, about a third of the built up area was recorded in 2012/13.
Cadw’s Judith Alfrey pioneered urban characterisation in Wales. It aims to identify the historic and physical character of settlements that is fundamental to local distinctiveness and pride of place. Suburban housing estates, byelaw terraces and leafy areas built for the better-off have features that give them individuality – the age, scale and layout of the buildings, architectural details, materials used, walls and fences, trees and green spaces, focal points and outward views, and much more. Recording these characteristics is not only useful for assessing proposals for change, suggesting features to be protected or echoed in sympathetic new development; the involvement of local residents as surveyors and informants opens eyes to what is good and bad and encourages civic pride and engagement, often pinpointing opportunities for enhancement. Studying old maps, photographs and other records provides an historical context and often suggests scope for further research.
During 2014 the Civic Society, working with the Civic Trust and the Abergavenny Museum, developed an ambitious proposal to complete the survey and analysis and have an extensive dialogue with the townspeople. Unfortunately a grant application that included funding for a part-time project manager was unsuccessful and we are now aiming for volunteers to complete the surveys and analysis in 2015 and to have more modest consultation with residents in 2016. We intend to ensure that our work is fully recorded and archived as a basis for further study.
The Civic Trust web site includes a number of references to the project including:
http://www.civictrustwales.org/toolkit/pdf/project%0leaflet.pd2f (a short leaflet on characterisation); http://www.civictrustwales.org/toolkit/Chapel%20Road%20final%20with%20map_smaller.pdf (a report on the initial Chapel Road study);
http://www.civictrustwales.org/toolkit/Abergavenny%20History%20document_smaller.pdf (introductory notes on the history of the town prepared by Dick Cole).
The manual and toolkit may be purchased via: https://civictrustwales.wordpress.com/character-and-place/
Anyone interested in contributing to our project, whether a member of the Society or not, should contact Tony Konieczny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Society regularly submits views on planning applications to the County Council. We only comment when we believe that proposals conflict with the aims of the Society and we try to be constructive whenever possible. A particular aim is to influence proposals at the pre-application stage, and we welcome early discussion with intending developers and/or the Council’s planning and conservation officers.
A particular aim is that the town should have a more sustainable balance between the amount of housing available and the number of jobs in the area, with less of a dormitory role. The numbers commuting in and out of the area are currently similar but further allocations of housing will threaten this if local jobs are lost and sufficient new employment is not created. The town has now developed close to its natural thresholds and we anticipate an important debate when the Local Development Plan is reviewed.
We have made detailed responses to Welsh Government consultations on planning and heritage matters. As examples, we have opposed the suggestion that Design and Access Statements accompanying planning applications should be abolished, and we have given a qualified welcome to proposals that developers be required to consult local communities before making planning applications.
We await public consultation on the County Council’s proposals that arise from their consultants’ Conservation Area Appraisal, perhaps including changes to the conservation area boundary. We hope that relevant conclusions from our Exploring Abergavenny urban characterisation project will be translated into Supplementary Planning Guidance.
If anyone would like to help the subgroup dealing with planning matters please contact Dick Cole at email@example.com.
Abergavenny Business Improvement District
This is an exciting opportunity which has created an ambitious business plan for our town which would see significant investment into the town centre to make Abergavenny more competitive and viable in the long term. The basis of the bid is that each business within a selected area would contribute an annual amount, in addition to their business rates, to implement the proposed plan. Tony and Ruth from the Civic Society are part of a core steering group which is developing the content for the plan in the run up to the business vote which is due to take place in June. For more details please click here.
The Gavenny Project
A project to celebrate the special river which flows through our town and gives Abergavenny its name. Project partners include Love Abergavenny and the Wye and Usk Foundation. For more details visit our facebook site by clicking here.
Bryn y Cwm Whole Place Plan
More details available soon
Abergavenny Town Team
More details available soon
Green spaces project
A collaborative effort with MCC, Abergavenny Town Council, ‘Abergavenny Climate Action’ and ‘Keep Abergavenny Tidy’ to smarten up communal green areas e.g. opposite Pen-y-Pound junction with Park Road; in Brewery Yard car park; by the Drill Hall and the little Regents St Memorial Garden. After initial meetings with MCC and other interested town groups, remedial work has taken place in Brewery Yard and the Park Road raised beds. The Memorial Garden, Regent Street is the next project to be considered. NB these are ongoing projects so contact us or come along if you are interested in getting involved in any of the green spaces projects.
It is also hoped to open up the area by the River Gavenny in Swan Meadow allowing this to be better accessed and enjoyed. Collaborative work between The Friends of Castle Meadows group, the Gavenny Meadows group and the Society’s River Gavenny Project will, upon completion, provide a significant “Green Corridor” in the middle of the town.
‘Abergavenny is not an ashtray!’ campaign launch September 2012
A community project involving: the Civic Society, ‘Keep Abergavenny Tidy’, Public Health Board, ‘Keep Wales Tidy’, MCC, Gwent Neighbourhood Police in the Town Centre (Red Square).
We have run a poster campaign throughout the town to try to minimise the amount of smoking litter.
Cigarette bins have been installed but could provide advertising space.
Hotspots are Red Square, Frogmore Street Bus Stop, public seating areas within the town.
Working collaboratively with KAT, Town Council and business owners to tackle the worst areas.