Shared Spaces

A financial model for urban regeneration: what Cardiff could learn from the Victoria Business Improvement District


Pocket park located outside a bank in Victoria. The little park is well maintained and beautifully planted, and still looked good at the end of November.

With the potential for a Cardiff Business Improvement District, I visited an area of London Continue reading


A Call for Artists: Collaboration with Nature


Made in Roath had a profound effect on me. I am not an artist. I don’t speak Artist. Artists generally scare me and other non-artists because artists are unpredictable beasts. They make you interact with a space, they invite you to explore feelings, they juxtapose things. But the greatest fear of many non-artists is the threat of having to join in a performance dance piece.

With all that trepidation, I aimed to attend as many of the events as I could. The organisers of Made in Roath are aiming to break down the barriers between artists and the rest of society. The event is to demonstrate the extraordinary talent and ideas that we have in Cardiff and Wales, and to make artists feel safe in showing, sharing and selling their work. The photos above are from a tour organised to show the artists of Rhôd as part of the Rhôd in Roath exhibition, using a number of front gardens along Ninian Road. (Please visit the link for a full explanation of the event.) I want to thank the artists for showing their work in this way, and I do believe they have progressed the urban/rural dialogue through this work. It is a subject close to my heart.

I want to participate in Made in Roath next year. And I want artists and non-artists to participate with me. Continue reading

Dyffryn Gardens

A mid-Autumn visit to Dyffryn Gardens to see the last of the summer’s flower in the intimate garden rooms, the expansive and magical arboretum, a restoration project in-progress, and to eat cake. There are so many things to see at this site, including the grand glasshouse with it’s extensive cacti collection, and its walled kitchen garden, I would highly recommend a visit.

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Howardian Nature Reserve


Raj Chettri works as an urban park ranger for Cardiff Council. He is passionate about the sites he manages and the volunteers that make it all happen.

One of Raj’s sites is Howardian Local Nature Reserve, to the east of the city centre. The nature reserve is a former municipal tip that closed in the 1970s. The local school was asked to help manage the new nature reserve and some of those same school friends formed one of the first Friends Groups in Cardiff. For Martin Doe and Nigel Ferrand it has become a lifetime’s work. The Friends have transformed the site, which is now home to over 500 species.

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Cathays Cemetery

Ten years ago, the council were struggling to maintain Cathays cemetery, with very few visitors and the chapel buildings falling in to disrepair. The Catholic chapel had already been knocked down in the 1980s due to safety reasons, and it looked like the two Protestant chapels were soon to follow. It was difficult to justify investment at the site as there was limited local support.

Step in the Friends of Cathays Cemetery! The group showed huge amounts of dedication to the cause, and the restoration of the two remaining chapels at the entrance to the cemetery is nearing completion with new roofs and floors installed, plus disabled access. The Friends Group and the Cardiff Bereavement Services have been working together to ensure the full benefits of this green space are realised by the people of Cardiff, and visitors to the city. The reasons for low visitor numbers has been addressed through guided tours and site information, to help visitors to navigate the large site.

I attended a guided walk around the Heritage Trail with an expert guide, Phil Amphlett, from City of Cardiff Bereavement Services.

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Community Gardens and Allotments Welsh Government Consultation

Currently, there is also a highly relevant Allotments and Community Gardens Consultation, or the more interesting youth version of the same consultation, which is looking to improve the availability of allotments and community gardens where they are needed, with some interesting potential options. The Government needs support or direction from the consultation, so please read, and if you have a comment, take some time and fill in a response. Responses must be in by 12th October 2014.

The consultation builds on the foundations of making Wales more sustainable, by decreasing our reliance on imported food, but also by improving the nation’s health through growing our own healthy foods. There is great emphasis on allowing local community’s access to land.

Sustainable development is enshrined in the Welsh Government constitution, and the government has worked hard to deliver actions on this promise. The One Wales, One Planet has been a pioneering document that has lead to actions across the board. There have been some seemingly easy wins like the plastic bag charge, which has been extremely simple and effective, but which England are somehow almost failing to implement.

There is also the Sustainable Development Charter, which links to the Well-being of Future Generations Bill, where the government are wanting to start a national debate about our future. You can take part by becoming a Futures Champion.

We have a long way to go, but we have a strong vision, we just need to maintain momentum, and participate!

Empty Walls Street Art Festival 2014

Another way of making our shared spaces more fun and beautiful…

We Are Cardiff

empty walls street art festival 2014

Last year, I left the country for about five months. When I came back, Cardiff was covered in beautiful, huge murals all over some previously pretty ugly buildings. I’d missed when it happened, but it was the doing of the lovely Modern Alchemists, through a project they organised called the Empty Walls Street Art project.

They’re running another Empty Walls festival this year! They’ve got a Kickstarter, and YOU can help them make it happen. I’ve pledged fifty quid towards it, because frankly Cardiff is streets behind other cities when it comes to street art and murals (like Bristol!) and I love looking at them around the city.

“Our aim is to bring colour, culture and vibrancy to the city of Cardiff by creating an outdoor gallery of public murals,” they say. The money is going towards the hire of cherry pickers, scaffold and ladders. The more they can fundraise, the…

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Plasnewydd Community Garden

A dedicated team of volunteers have created a beautiful communal garden within 10 minutes walk of the city centre in Roath by the Plasnewydd Community Centre. It is an oasis of calm and cheerfulness, with a welcoming spirit.

Sophie and I joined the team on a July Saturday morning to find out about more about the project.

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