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 the project was completed by volunteers in 2016. It was exhibited at the Gunter Mansion in 2017. Click here to access the full study.
The Society benefits from members with professional experience of planning and architecture and 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. Ideally we would like 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. Over a number of years we have made representations against various redevelopment proposals for the livestock market site, including the Morrisons store that is now open, perhaps in design terms the worst of all for this sensitive location.A particular strategic 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.
We believe 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 as the Local Development Plan is to be revised by 2022 and demands for further allocations of land for development seem likely.
We have made detailed responses to Welsh Government consultations on planning and heritage matters. As examples, we have successfully opposed the suggestion that Design and Access Statements accompanying planning applications should be abolished, and we have given a qualified welcome to the requirement that developers of major applications consult local communities before making planning applications. However, to date our responses to this opportunity have not led to changes in the developers’ plans.
If anyone would like to help the subgroup dealing with planning matters please contact Dick Cole at email@example.com.
This Design Statement (click here) has been prepared because we feel there is a need for written advice that encourages developers in the town to pay particular regard to the distinctive characteristics of the town. The statement draws on our ‘Exploring Abergavenny’ study of the character of the town and conclusions that we have drawn from commenting on planning applications in recent years. It therefore also provides a framework for Society responses to future planning applications.
The statement aims to improve the quality of design. It recognises that new buildings and spaces may succeed by blending unobtrusively with those of the past or by introducing something modern and quite different. The architecture of the town has evolved in the past and can continue to do so.
The statement (October 2018) will be extended and amended when necessary, with better and more local illustrations if possible.
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. The project is at an early stage at the moment and we are recruiting more partners to develop an action plan.
Abergavenny Town Team
Members of the Society have made considerable contributions to the preparation of the Town Team’s Community Plan for North Monmouthshire and are actively engaged in the delivery of its projects.
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.