Dawlish Town Centre Masterplan: managing transition
We have been commissioned by Dawlish Community Trust along with lead consultants yellow book to prepare the Dawlish Town Centre Masterplan for this attractive Devon resort town. Dawlish enjoys a remarkable and memorable setting, facing south to the sea and surrounded by a rich rural landscape. The town itself, though somewhat frayed around the edges, is ranged around Dawlish Water and its green corridor, and the 19th century townscape is still largely intact. Compared with many other traditional resorts Dawlish appears to have managed the transition to new roles relatively successfully.
Powerful socio-economic and market forces have transformed the roles and functions of small towns; the effects on some seaside resorts have been particularly severe. Increasing personal wealth and mobility have helped to smooth the transition for some more favoured places – like Dawlish – by fuelling an influx of commuters and retired people.
These driving forces generate threats and opportunities for communities like Dawlish. Whether we like it or not they reflect the way we live in the early 21st century, and it is not within the gift of the Community Trust or the consultant team to resist them. Instead the challenge is to enable Dawlish to adapt successfully to a changing world, to seize the opportunities that are being created and to tackle the negative effects.
While the forces shaping Dawlish are being felt throughout Europe and the rest of the developed world, they are filtered through the specific characteristics and circumstances of a distinctive town with its own unique set of assets and liabilities. For example, the town’s natural setting and its unusual urban form are among its most notable attributes, but topography and built heritage are also constraints on development and contribute to traffic congestion.
Our approach to this assignment will combine a robust appraisal of the implications for Dawlish of social, economic, technological, political and environmental driving forces, with a sensitive, place-specific assessment of the town’s assets and capacity for change.