A housing estate in Conwy has become the first in Wales to be awarded a coveted environmental award.
Housing association Cartrefi Conwy, along with local environmental groups, spent more than three years transforming the Parc Peulwys estate in Llysfaen, above Old Colwyn, from an area blighted by anti-social behaviour and drug abuse into a pleasant housing estate with open green spaces.
Cartrefi Conwy created a dramatic new entrance to the estate as part of a £1.1 million project which included landscape improvements, traffic management, new footpaths, a nature trail and enhanced play areas.
That came on the heels of a £4 million housing improvement scheme to renovate more than 260 homes on the estate, with pioneering external wall insulation and other measures designed to slash energy bills by 40 per cent.
Now all that hard work has resulted Parc Peulwys being the first housing estate in Wales to receive a Green Flag award by Keep Wales Tidy.
Keep Wales Tidy project officer Alaw Cerys explained that winning a Green Flag Award was anything but easy.
She said: “The estate needed to fulfil certain stringent criteria such as being a welcoming place as well as being a safe and secure place that’s well maintained and well managed.
“The awards are normally presented to play areas or parks and are similar to Blue Flag Awards awarded to clean and safe beaches.
“I know the judges were impressed by Parc Peulwys’ green open spaces that are appealing to both tenants and visitors. It’s clear the estate is a safe place to live and that the community is proud of their environment.”
She added: “I’m not local to this area but I can see how the community works together with Cartrefi Conwy to improve and maintain their environment.
“This housing estate is now the benchmark and an example to other housing estates around Wales as to what can be achieved. This is now the standard.”
Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden spoke of his delight at Parc Peulwys receiving a Green Flag award.
He said: “This is an award that has been won by the community. It is the Parc Peulwys tenants that deserve the credit.
“None of this success would have come to fruition without the vital involvement of the local community who have really got stuck in to improving the environment in which they live.
“The success continues with two successful environmental community groups, Go Green and Heart Of, really active in the community.
“We now know from a survey that 85% of tenants of Parc Peulwys rate the quality of their outdoor space as high and 85% rate Peulwys as a good place to raise children.”
Peter Frost, a senior Natural Resources Wales urban advisor, was one of the judges and presented the Green Flag to Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden.
He said: “It has to be said that 10 or 20 years ago I would not have felt comfortable walking onto this estate, now I make a point of visiting whenever I can. The past is the past but today the reality is that this community is an environment to be proud of.
“It’s remarkable in that the environment, social cohesion and the economy are all being addressed at the same time. I have only seen this once before and that was in Sweden.”
Cllr Dave Cowans, Conwy County Borough Council’s cabinet member for the environment said: “It’s truly incredible the transformation we have witnessed here on the Parc Peulwys estate.”
Cartrefi Conwy Community Regeneration Manager Owen Veldhuizen has worked tirelessly alongside the tenants.
He said: “It goes to show how perseverance pays off and the work done on this estate has made it a community to be rightly proud of.”
Parc Peulwys tenant, Jim Fenton, a painter and decorator who is currently unemployed chairs the Parc Peulwys Go Green Group.
He said:” The Go Green Group was set up to encourage people to grow their own vegetables; we have some plots set aside for growing produce near the school.
“To get the Green Flag award is amazing. It means a lot to everyone and it belongs to the whole community for what everyone has done.
“As well as Go Green there is the Heart Of Group and Peulwys District Partnership Board who have all played a part.”
He added: “We have all worked hard and all done our bit. I have lived on this estate for 18 years or so and when I first came here it wasn’t a nice place to live. It was rough and had a terrible reputation.
“People now want to come and live here and be a part of the community. That’s how we want it to stay.”