Belief: A Potent Ingredient for Regeneration (And Sport)

Momentum is a powerful force, especially when it comes to professional sports and urban regeneration...

James Brown

Momentum is a powerful force, especially when it comes to professional sports and urban regeneration. When a place gets stuck in a rut, it can be hard to build momentum and positive sentiment. This is where having a clear masterplan, backed up by deliverable interventions becomes important – a good town centre strategy can be the driving force behind action and words, and it can make all the difference.

Take Wrexham City Centre and Football Club, for example. It wasn’t long ago that both were in the doldrums. But both are now in a good moment, both on the field and in the city. The proposed redevelopment for the Kop end of the famous Racecourse Ground is an example of where placemaking, economic development and professional sport meet to create belief and generate positive sentiment. 

The Urbanists prepared the masterplan for the wider stadium area and train station, just before the new high-profile owners came in, and it’s now being taken forward by the council. The masterplan helped establish the need for land assembly, highlighted the amount of space a new 5000-seater stand would require, and established a clear funding case. The masterplan and the new ownership of the Football Club have contributed to a sense of renewed belief and purpose. However, it is ‘localness’ that is both the driving and defining factor. The Disney+ docuseries ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ taps into this sense of place and community extremely well and the masterplan for the stadium and the area around it similarly taps into what makes this place and community distinct. 

The Kop end of the the Racecourse Ground – currently being redeveloped.

So how do places get unstuck and create belief? It’s all about getting stakeholders to ‘invest’ in a place and this means getting developers, investors, local people and visitors to believe that only good things can happen. When the cycle of investment starts, sentiment begins to improve, this can be a potent force for change and needs to be harnessed as part of a masterplan and clear delivery plan.

To do this, it’s vital to have a clear vision of the end goals – what can this place look like? And have absolute clarity about what is going to be delivered to start on that journey – or winning run. These days it is called placemaking. While a masterplan can’t account for Hollywood dollars transforming the landscape of what’s possible, there’s nothing wrong with raising expectations – as long as the majority of them can be delivered.

So, while we can’t promise city status or a Hollywood takeover of your local football club, we can promise a masterplan and interventions that will get a place back onto a winning run. 

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