Bronllys Eco Garden vision wins national praise

Friday 19th February 2016 3:00 pm

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A VISION for an Eco Garden Village on a Breconshire hospital site has won the support of a national community development group.

The National Community Land Trust Network (CLT) is supporting Powys Health and Well Being Action Group in its ground breaking proposals for the grounds of Bronllys Hospital to help the site, donated nearly 100 years ago to the community, become a state-of-the art community asset for the next 100 years.

The group’s new CLT advisor, Ian Crawley, attended a gathering hosted by the community group at the Basil Webb building on the hospital site last Friday, February 5, to outline the work of the Trust.

Explaining his appointment, chair of the Bronllys Well Being Park Steering Group, Lydia Powell, said: “We have joined the Community Land Trust movement and won the first round in a bid which allocates a technical advisor to us.

“Ian Crawley’s role is to give guidelines about how to develop the park. The CLT offers a lot of experience and support in setting up CLT projects which offer, not affordable housing but really affordable housing, to rent or to buy. Property and equity remains in the community for the community.”

She said the group is also hoping three members of Hay Town Council will join the steering group to help it work alongside Powys teaching Health Board.

The group has been encouraged by the Welsh Government to work with the health board and Powys County Council to ensure that the 65-acre park becomes a flagship project for the new Future Generations Act.

The group is now working on business plans and setting up a community benefit organisation to develop and run the park, described and a “Eco Garden Village” that will offer a range of community housing needs and employment, environment, health, social care and well-being facilities.

Mr Crawley said the programme for Bronllys was “fantastic”, involving re building and support projects with benefits to the wider area of Bronllys, Talgarth and Hay-on-Wye.

He said the scheme could support projects off the park too, such as the derelict Talgarth hospital site, in response to a question from Hay Town Councillor, Gareth Ratcliffe.

The Well Being project at Bronllys could join 175 CLTs in England and Wales, which have mostly sprang up in the last five years.

“It’s expanded because neighbourhood planning has taken off. People are saying we want our own agency to deliver what we want in terms of community assets.

“CLTs have emerged as communities have lost confidence in the provision of affordable social housing, particularly by local authorities,” said Mr Crawley.

Present at the meeting was David Palmer from the Wales Co-operative Centre, which helps with similar projects, including CLTs in Wales.

He described the Bronllys plans as “very innovative.”

“To do a project that combines health and employment on a large scale as well as housing is part of a larger solution. Bringing together different organisations to meet the needs of the community is really good.

“This project will be for the next Assembly Government to work for. It’s part of a system of stewardship; giving control. This is becoming more and more mainstream and people are looking to do it,” said Mr Palmer.