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Powys Council unveils plans to transform central areas in Newtown

Newtown (Adobe Stock)

Edible gardens and flood defences part of Newtown project to tackle climate change and improve town centre economy.

Following a recent public consultation, the areas – located in Severn Square, High Street and Back Lane – will get new seating, edible gardens and a buskers circle, with the aim of revitalising the town centre and improving biodiversity.

The project is part of Growing Newtown, a £760,000 collaboration between Powys County Council, Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council and Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme. Building on the transfer of 130 acres of green and blue spaces in Powys in 2018 – the largest community asset transfer seen in Wales – the project aims to link wider green spaces to the town centre to create corridors of biodiversity and revitalise the town centre.

Newtown Green Infrastructure projects map

The designs have been adapted with feedback from residents following a public consultation which took place in December last year.

Results of the consultation showed that installing urban green infrastructure in Newtown Town Centre was supported by 82% of respondents. A total of 73% of respondents said they would be more likely to visit the town centre after the completion of the project and agreed the proposed changes would have a positive impact on businesses.

Many residents’ suggestions from the consultation were incorporated in the final designs. These include additional recycling and litter bins, wildlife-friendly planting, and wheelchair accessible raised beds to enable people with mobility issues to take part in community gardening.

The agreed designs will also improve the town’s resilience to climate change and reduce risk of flooding by redirecting rainfall from high street buildings through Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and rain gardens.

The following designs have been agreed for the areas:

AREA A: Back Lane

  • New recycled plastic seating
  • Community planting beds with bug hotels and wildlife areas
  • Edible flower and vegetable beds
  • New railings

AREA B: High street

  • New shrub beds
  • New recycled plastic seating

AREA C: Severn Square

  • Busking circle
  • New recycled plastic seating including a circular bench
  • New planted beds
  • Greening asphalt and block paving for wildlife

One further location, Gas Street Car Park, will also have new trees planted and a rain garden installed in its existing green space.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said: “We know that Wales’ towns are facing unprecedented challenges – not only from Covid-19 but also a changing climate and extreme weather patterns.

“The green spaces in our town centres are incredibly valuable and help to increase their biodiversity, tackle climate change and create a more pleasant environment for people to live, work, learn and enjoy.

“I look forward to seeing these green infrastructure projects open up new, local economic opportunities while creating sustainable places for the people of Newtown to enjoy.”

The ‘Growing Newtown’ project forms part of Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns Programme which supports economic regeneration and wider sustainable development.

Transforming Towns is a Welsh Government programme providing more than £110 million to town centre regeneration in Wales. Town centres are an essential and personal part of Welsh heritage and community, and the Transforming Towns programme is dedicated to serving and connecting the people who visit, live and work in them.