11 Jun 2010

Stroud: one of the three greatest towns in country

The SNJ reports that Stroud has been named as one of the three greatest towns in the country (see their article here). This latest announcement is that we have been nominated in the Great Towns category for an Academy of Urbanism award.

Photos: Stroud and below Farmers Market buskers, Sub Rooms where The Beatles played many years ago and Shambles market stall forager, Rupert Burdock

We have been described as 'one of the more authentically gritty and industrial of the Cotswold towns' - a change from the nicknamed 'the ar*ehole of the Cotswolds' which I heard when I first arrived here nearly 20 years ago. A testament to the hard work of many, with projects like the 'Farmers Market' and the wonderful Open Studios which are on this month - 470 artists in 76 sites!!!

Anyhow the nomination reads: "Stroud has been regenerating itself ‘bottom-up’ in recent years, with some notable success. There is a strong community of independent shops and caf├ęs, which provide the mainstay of the retail experience in the town. A farmers’ market was nominated for the national Farmers’ Market of the Year in 2001 and won it in 2007. The success of small businesses has, in recent years, caused a number of national retail chains to open outlets in the town. Stroud has a significant artistic community that dates back to the early part of the 20th Century."

Stephen Gallagher, communications co-ordinator at the 'prestigious' Academy of Urbanism is quoted in the SNJ saying: "Our aim is to identify the best practice among urban areas and we believe that we can learn from each town or city. The greatest teacher is the place itself and we have got a lot to learn from Stroud."

Formed in 2006 and based in London, the Academy of Urbanism consists of architects, town planners, designers and academics who vote each year on the greatest town in Britain and the Republic of Ireland and also on the best city. An assessment panel compiles a shortlist of ten and that number is whittled down to a final three. The other two shortlisted are Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and Westport in Ireland. The assessment team will visit Stroud in the coming months and results will be announced at an awards dinner on Friday, November 19

Stroud - not the greenest!

Well done Stroud! A while back there was much fuss over whether Stroud was the greenest town in the UK - see here - no we weren't although compared to many we were and still are streets ahead - one comment on a list this morning re Stroud's greenness read: "Stroud is still well and truly UN-green...gridlock, urban sprawl, high levels of commuter culture, old decrepid housing stock, declining local food production capacity."

Indeed - but sadly that description fits most towns today in the UK - an indication of how far we need to go but nevertheless there is a vibrancy, creativity and quality to Stroud that deservedly puts it in the category of Greatest Towns.

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