The project advisory group recently reviewed The Llandovery Deep Place Study: A Pathway for Future Generations, led by Dr Mark Lang with the cooperation of Cardiff University and published in 2019.
Drawing on academic papers, social and economic reports by Carmarthenshire County Council, Welsh Government’s policy framework and the output of five themed ‘Think Space’ sessions with members of the community, the Deep Place Study considers how to achieve a more economically, socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable community.
At its heart, the Deep Place approach argues that the traditional model for economic development with an emphasis on infrastructure, relentless growth, and ‘investment ready’ skills has little to offer a community like Llandovery. Instead the focus ought to be on place-making, increased localisation of economic activity, greater social equity in economic outcomes, and a better integration of people and environment.
Llandovery has several key characteristics, familiar to many other Carmarthenshire towns. There are a greater number of Welsh speakers, but depopulation is a risk and the population is ageing. The local secondary school closed recently, but there is still a core of public services locally, which needs protecting. The only banking facility is the local Post Office, yet there is larger proportion of micro-businesses and self-employed workers who may need more frequent access to financial services. Despite the prominence of farming, most households buy their weekly groceries in large supermarket chains located outside town.
The study advocates the progressive development of certain areas of the local economy, such as food, energy and energy conservation, care, and environment. Indigenous local businesses could be nurtured and the self-employed supported through the creation of a business hub in the town centre to provide business facilities including access to high speed broadband.
A number of key concepts inform the Deep Place approach, and the report considers each in turn: Social Exclusion – poverty in Llandovery is linked to low wages rather than outright joblessness; the Transition Theory – how the community can become a low carbon economy; Total Place – a specific approach to public service reform, arguing that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model; and finally the Foundational Economy – the often ‘mundane’ economic activity that meets every day needs has to be a key focus for developing a resilient and sustainable Llandovery.
The study lays the groundwork for progress and suggests that this is taken forward by a Llandovery ‘Coalition for Change’, involving community, businesses, voluntary sector and public service representatives to consider the actions necessary to achieve sustainable change.
To view the full feasibility assessment and accompanying reports see below: