Llandrindod Wells is one of the newest Cynefin areas, with Place Coordinator, Diana Berriman, taking up post in February 2015. Diana is based at the Severn Wye Energy Agency offices in Llandrindod Wells, but the area she covers also takes in much of rural mid Wales.
Llandrindod Wells is a spa town that grew in popularity in 19th century thanks to the arrival of the Central Wales Railway in 1865 that connected mid Wales with the rest of the country. The Victorian trend to 'take the waters' for health reasons at spa towns - in this case saline, sulphur and magnesium - also contributed to Llandrindod's growth. Hotels, leisure and retail facilities sprang up, catering to the influx of visitors, but the Great Depression and Second World War caused a huge decline.
The townspeople rallied and Llandrindod became the administrative centre for Powys, with Powys County Council still based at County Hall. The town has since established a light industrial base and has seen an increase in visitors over recent years, with events such as the Drama Festival and Victorian Festival taking place throughout the year. Its rolling hills and striking scenery also provide opportunities for outdoor activities, such as walking and mountain biking.
Like many small towns in Wales, Llandrindod was hit hard by recession and austerity, with empty shops in the town centre and local authority cuts causing job losses. It is, however, benefiting from a Welsh Government Local Growth Zones initiative, led locally by the Llandrindod Wells Business Group. This initiative is supporting Llandrindod in its promotion as an events centre, and a Town Champion has been employed to deliver key features in the Business Group's Economic Regeneration Plan to boost the town's identity, business services and tourism opportunities.
Llandrindod experiences its share of challenges, such as old and hard to treat homes resulting in fuel poverty and energy inefficiency, high levels of car dependency, low incomes and young people leaving the area for job opportunities in more vibrant economies. However, Diana's initial research has provided some hopeful data, with a strong sense of community and interest in governance reported among residents, as well as higher than average life expectancy, participation in sport and engagement with heritage.
Diana will be focusing on rural mid Wales as a whole, looking strategically at how the area can benefit economically from the resources it has to offer, including carbon and water storage, renewable energy generation, food production and tourism.