In many ways, the recognition, protection and enhancement of character is central to the Civic Trust movement. This ethos, born in post-war Britain, focuses on the idea that sense of place and social identity are closely connected, and that places should, above all, be designed for people. We think that the capacity to analyse local character is a key tool for local amenity groups such as civic societies.

 

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Exploring the character of towns

If we are to plan and build better communities, and to make the streets of present day towns and cities more liveable, we believe that is important to understand the factors that contribute  — negatively as well as positively — to urban character. We think its important to look at the whole of a town, not just the obviously historic bits, which are often protected by conservation areas. We are running a Lottery-funded project to find out how volunteer groups can engage with this kind of work. We think it’s important because studies of this kind can provide a shared understanding of what is significant and special about individual places in a way that can inform decisions about conservations, development and regeneration. We think that civic societies in our network need to make use of the techniques of urban characterisation in order to develop their capacity to influence decision making, build partnerships and share their insights with the community.

Cadw has pioneered urban character studies in Wales, drawing on the different approaches that have been practised in an English context. Its approach has helped to shape our own project and the toolkit we are developing.

Urban character reports from Cadw LINK

Our characterisation project & toolkit

Project leaflet: Exploring the character of towns (pdf)

The Exploring the character of towns project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and started in March 2012.

Manual and toolkit now online

In our resources section

Our resources section will consolidate links to helpful materials on this site and elsewhere.

Conference reports and resources

Documentation, presentations and imagery from two seminars on urban characterisation mounted in 2010

March 2010/Tredegar

October 2010/Welshpool

May 2013/Shrewsbury