Back in 2015, the town’s community plan identified our environment and green spaces as important to keep, to make better and to make more use of.
In 2016, the opportunity arose for the community to take on the stewardship of 130 acres of the towns parks, open spaces and river frontage. With the support of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council this asset was secured on a 99 year lease and subsequent sublease, from Powys County Council.
To take this land on – and to work with the community on new ideas and activities – Going Green for a Living Community Land Trust Ltd was formed in 2017. We trade as Open Newtown. Much easier to remember.
In 2018 Open Newtown secured a £1.1 million grant from The National Lottery Community Fund Wales as part of their Community Asset Transfer fund to enable it to develop the lands assets and to establish the projects and partnerships that would allow Newtown’s green spaces to be managed in perpetuity for the community. The majority of this funding has been invested in our new community & visitor centre, Hafan Yr Afon.
The land is maintained through a Service Level Agreement contract between ourselves and Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council, to maintain the land to the standards set out in the lease agreement. We are uniquely placed to provide the best value for money on behalf of the community and provide further services in betterment of the agreement, through improved seating, reactive and planned maintenance, Park Ranger services, clearing anti-social hot spots. supporting and leading on new public events, securing 1000’s of volunteer hours, providing training opportunities, all in partnership with local contractors and organisations, along with establishing new relationships with national organisations.
Legally we are a company limited by guarantee but you will hear us referring to ourselves as a social enterprise (and at times a not-for-profit company). These are all correct and mean we run as a company and must make a surplus to stay viable. Any surplus we do make must be reinvested in our core purpose. But essentially we are still a Private Enterprise and pay our fair share of taxes.
This video is from 2020:
Open Newtown is a community owned company dedicated to making life better. Helping create rich and diverse wildlife in and around Newtown we both develop and deliver a range of projects. Some are long-term like the 99 year lease of the towns urban parks, whereas opening up the spaces to cycling and canoeing is a short term project with everlasting benefits. Wherever possible our activities are founded on strong partnerships and foster community cohesion, a sense of place and community spirit. The idea being that we help make Newtown open for all.
We maintain the large green public spaces in Newtown, through a Service Level Agreement with Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council, which includes grass and essential tree maintenance, waste management, managing sports / recreation areas, along with areas of biodiversity. We manage the Town Hall grounds, Dolerw Park, Trehafren Fields, Trehafren Hill, Vaynor Fields and public land between Maesydail and Mochdre Industrial Estate, approximately 130 acres of green space and some of the river bank.
Through The National Lottery Community Fund Wales we are enabling community groups and organisations to deliver projects for public benefit
Some examples of the projects we have run include:
Nature Friendly Community Woodlands – In Spring 2019 over 1,800 trees were planted at the far end of Vaynor fields, a large pond and dipping platform was installed, enabling local schools and community groups to interact with nature. This space has turned a previously mown ‘green dessert’ in to a new ‘Nature Friendly Community Woodland’ area.
Low Carbon Transport – Open Newtown has been awarded European funding to invest in an electric vehicle charging network across north Powys. In parallel, we are developing a new car club for the region, to help familiarise local householders to electric vehicle usage, and to explore new approaches for developing local community transport. Both components intended to help convert Mid Wales over to low carbon (EV) vehicles, to create & retain jobs and income from this transition and to use the new infrastructure to support affordable access to travel for communities and those in need.
Sustainable Farming – Severn Rivers Trust and Robert Owen Community Banking Fund are coming together to work with farmers in the Newtown area who are interested in improving water and soils management for the dual benefits of improved business performance and enhanced environmental quality.
Building Resilient Businesses – The Building Resilient Businesses project aims to build additional resilience amongst businesses operating in Newtown, by advising on employee wellbeing and supporting businesses to manage their resources efficiently.
Please see our Projects page for the full list!