Times are more challenging for towns and cities than ever before, so it is fortuitous that before the pandemic, Gwynedd Council and partners took the decision to commission a new masterplan for Bangor’s city centre.
As the oldest city in Wales, Bangor has a lively Welsh culture, which draws international interest. It is also a university city, and universities everywhere are adapting to enormous changes in learning, research and global outreach.
But in designing the masterplan, LDA Design knew that Bangor needs to be far more resilient in order to face future health and financial shocks: decline in retail is hitting the centre, and there is widespread hardship, poor health and housing, and unemployment.
To better understand local needs and priorities, we held a Big Masterplanning Week last year. A diverse mix of people worked with us to reimagine their city, from reducing carbon to re-purposing space and buildings in the centre and around the University. This essential groundwork informed our ‘Small World City’ model, which puts people at the heart of our vision for Bangor. It addresses issues of homelessness, loneliness and isolation, affordability, and health and wellbeing.
Cities are places of great potential, but equally they can be unhealthy, inequitable and stressful. A ‘Small World City’ can experience the benefits of culture, density and interaction without the downsides – a ‘Small World City’ can be a happy city.
So our masterplan celebrates the advantages of a city that is compact and well-connected and easily understood. In Bangor, different communities can come together and enjoy the best of city life, but also feel at one with nature and the stunning North Wales landscape and coastline. It also celebrates Bangor as a place of global exchange of ideas, knowledge, culture and language. The masterplan connects some of the city’s most important spaces and places, stitching together university and city centre, ‘town and gown’, and making the city healthier, with more walking and cycling routes.
By linking potential regeneration sites more people will be encouraged to live and work in the city centre, a move that will support independent and local businesses. A new central spine connecting the waterfront, the city centre and university, and the station is aligned along a tree-lined, calmed Deiniol Road, with wider pavements and cycleways and new crossings.
The masterplan also provides the framework for a new station quarter connected to the North Wales Metro Rail project, the Bangor University’s new science and technology campus. Connections will be improved beyond the city centre to Bangor Mountain, the Roman Camp and the North Wales National Coastal Path and the city will be better united with its majestic Victorian Garth Pier extending sublimely into the Menai Strait, with views along Welsh coast.
Click here to take a look at our masterplan for Bangor.