Aberaeron, the picturesque seaside resort town on Wales' west coast, has today been crowned the winner in Wales' Best Places competition. The nationwide competition, organised by the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru, celebrates the places protected, carefully planned or improved by the planning system for communities.
Nearly 5,500 people voted on a shortlist of 10 places, with Aberaeron emerging as the most popular place.
Tenby, the walled coastal town in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Gower, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain are second and third respectively.
Presenting the award to the Mayor of Aberaeron today, RTPI President Phil Williams said:
"Aberaeron is a truly deserving winner of the title – 'Wales' Best Place'. The impact of planning is obvious here as you walk through the town which has been carefully planned in the Georgian style around the harbour. Planners have been important guardians of this town's character as it has changed over the last 200 years – from small fishing village, to a thriving trading port and ship building town to today's bustling business centre and tourist hot spot. As a Welshman I'm proud to have shone a spotlight on the outstanding range of places in Wales that have been protected, carefully planned or improved by planners."
Mayor of Aberaeron, Rhys Davies, said:
"I am so pleased that Aberaeron has won this very special award by the RTPI. It is something the residents of Aberaeron can be proud of, a place we all care deeply about.
Aberaeron is a gem of a town, it's beauty cannot fail to capture the hearts of visitors. It is one of the most photographed towns in the UK, yet maintaining Aberaeron as a popular visitor destination takes hard work and I would like to thank the business community and all our residents who maintain their properties so well, and which greatly benefits our tourist trade. We of course will make full use of the recognition we have been given by all who voted for us and by further promoting our town on a national and international stage, which not only benefits Aberaeron but Ceredigion as a whole."
Peter Lloyd, Chair of RTPI Cymru said:
"Congratulations Aberaeron, affectionately known as the 'Jewel of Cardigan Bay'. It's no surprise this charming seaside town, dotted with brightly coloured cottages around the harbour is the public's favourite. This competition has reminded us just how important planners and the planning system are in ensuring places are protected, shaped and improved."
Councillor Elizabeth Evans, County Councillor for Aberaeron Ward said, "I am delighted that Aberaeron has won the RTPI Wales' Best Places award. We were in a very tough shortlist of great places, which makes the winning all the more special. I would like to thank everyone who voted for our beautiful town and I know that the residents of Aberaeron will be as proud as I am, that our town has received this award. We of course have to thank the Rev Alban Gwynne, the man who made it all possible back in 1807, for having the vision to plan such a lovely place. Today, we are merely custodians of his legacy; this great town, Aberaeron."
Aberaeron is one of Wales' first planned towns and since then has been developed and managed by the planning system to be a popular tourist destination and providing services to communities in its large rural hinterland. The planning of the town by Colonel Alban Gwynne and architect, Edward Haycock, earned it the reputation of being "one of the best examples of a planned township of small scale in Wales.
Following 200 nominations received from the across Wales, our Panel of experts selected a shortlist of ten places for the public to vote on in August and September 2016.
The top ten places in Wales, as shaped by planning and planners are:
Aberaeron is one of Wales' first planned towns and since then has been developed and managed by the planning system to be a popular tourist destination and providing services to communities in its large rural hinterland.
Caernarfon's walled town, waterfront and castle have flourished. Through the planning system the historic character of this town has been celebrated and created a great place for the local community and visitors. It is a vibrant, walkable town with a wide variety of shops, arts facilities and business.
Cardiff Bay Inner Harbour (Cardiff)
Through a major project the former derelict Cardiff Docks have been regenerated to create a popular area with shops, restaurants, tourist attractions, businesses and homes, as well as the home for the National Assembly for Wales, based around a new freshwater lake following the construction of a barrage.
This picturesque market town has been protected and enhanced through planning, including a long term heritage-led regeneration programme to improve the historic buildings of the town. This bustling town provides valuable services to the local residents and its wider rural area.
Gower was designated the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the UK. Its rich and diverse scenery have been protected and managed through planning, balancing the needs of local communities and the pressures of this popular tourist destination with the sensitive natural landscape and habitats.
The Hayes, Cardiff
Planning has been at the heart of the transformation of The Hayes in recent years to become a bustling pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare in the city, rich in public art. It is lined with grand Edwardian and Victorian buildings on one side and the new St David's centre on the other, and the new Cardiff Central Library at the end.
Llandudno Promenade and Mostyn Street (Conwy County Borough)
Llandudno was a planned resort some 150 years ago and through the planning system the historic character of this popular seaside resort has been retained and managed. It continues to be a bustling and walkable resort, attracting visitors and local people alike.
Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre (Merthyr Tydfil)
From its hey day of mining, Merthyr Tydfil town centre suffered decline but has been revitalised through an ambitious masterplan, informed by local residents, which has transformed the town centre, bringing the Town Hall and Penderyn Square back to life and developing linkages into the town and across the River Taff and to the College to give a positive future to this Valley's town.
Snowdonia (Snowdonia National Park)
Snowdonia is the first and largest National Park in Wales, rich in landscape, its towns and 60km of coast. It is home to the highest Mountain in Wales and England – Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa. It attracts a high number of visitors and planning has sensitively managed this pressure along with the needs of local communities whilst protecting its special qualities.
Tenby (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park)
Tenby is an attractive walled town with fine beaches and a working harbour. Sensitive planning has protected the historic qualities of the town whilst enabling it to develop to meet the needs of the high numbers of visitors and its local communities.