The big adaptation to climate change happening here on Milford Haven Waterway is the development of a world-class marine energy and engineering centre of excellence at Pembroke Dock, and the communities’ support is vital.
Whilst community support for the projected 1,800 new jobs is clear, amongst discussions around updating the port there remains a local groundswell urging consideration for the past of the site, and the Port agrees. Pembroke Dock is bursting with maritime history and just waiting to be explored, the green and blue future of the dockyard exists alongside the sail-powered, shipbuilding hubbub filled past of the very same dockyard, they are two ends of the same story. The Port cherishes its heritage and as a responsible developer is working to explore the town’s story as it moves into the next phase.
Carriage Drive (also known locally as The Avenue) is the former formal entrance to the dockyard which officers of the Royal Navy in Pembroke Dock would use in horse-drawn carriages to access their residences, the Georgian buildings on the street now known as The Terrace. Whilst once it was a grand, formal space, the avenue of trees remains but much of the surrounding space is now largely overgrown.
As part of the adaptations to the port, the Port of Milford Haven identified some surrounding areas that would benefit from heritage enhancement and Carriage Drive is one of these and wanted the community to help reimagine this space. Together they would produce a joint vision for a better, more community focussed use of Carriage Drive.
Participatory mapping was the logical way CCAT could facilitate this, though getting our heads together over a magnified map of the area armed with pens and sticky notes was out of the question.
When the CCAT project started in Autumn 2019, consulting with the community together, in person, in local venues was very much part of the vision. Coordinating a project about community adaptation to climate change during the pandemic required that we ourselves adapt to the new norm, remote working. But how do you engage and collaborate with the community, without access to the community? The answer, go digital of course.
The enhancements already committed to fell into three categories: Heritage, Amenities and Environmental.
If we wanted the community to share what would improve their experience of the space, then we also needed an innovative way that would allow this during a time when everyone was separated from each other. This was a great opportunity to locally bring together the technologies tested by CCAT in a real-life application.
We tested different technologies available via ESRI including overlaying photos then and now, a timeline of new & old maps, interactive maps, embedded video, graphic design and our 360-camera allowed us to test tour making software, enabling participants to visit the site as originally planned, albeit from their own homes.
We worked with GeoDesign Hub to create 3 simple, themed, interactive tools where participants could map the location of their ideas and describe them. This tool allows participants to vote for a previous idea to save having to write it again for themselves, and to add to previous ideas via a comments section similar to those found in social media.
You can see the finished result here
We partnered with Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre to deliver the project. They provided expertise and insight, multiple images of the dockyard over the years through various iterations of use, and a pool of ready and willing volunteers and members brimming with ideas for improvements to the space.
Our research indicated that many of the likely participants would typically be less inclined to engage with these tools, so we needed to mitigate for this.
As a project partner, the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre acted as a hub by hosting a community participation point, making the consultation accessible to those who don’t have devices at home by providing a computer and volunteers on standby to assist.
By the time the consultation was live, we were allowed to gather in small numbers if observing Government Covid regulations. Stakeholders were invited to discuss their ideas and input into the mapping tool together. Some participants preferred individual hard copies for writing their suggestions and others were happy to discuss and input into the computer.
Over the course of the 3 weeks, the consultation was open, the tool was used 282 times and 490 separate ideas were put forward. And this doesn’t include a further 399 votes and 40 comments! The most suggested idea was Heritage Interpretation, followed by benches and plants for pollinating species.
The next stage is to publish these results in more detail to the project website and share them broadly with the community. All ideas will be considered and form part of the plans to develop a more ambitious strategy for the future of Carriage Drive and the community will be involved every step of the way.