Rhyl is a seaside town with a proud past and one fantastic natural asset – one of the UK’s best sandy beaches. Like many similar resorts it had struggled to keep pace with changing leisure aspirations and a world where warmer and more exotic destinations were only a short hop on a budget airline.
Engaging local people and stakeholders about radical regeneration proposals and a different kind of future for the town, had to contend with a deep sense of fatalism and a belief that decline was inevitable and irreversible. Rhyl had forgotten how to think in the future tense.
We wanted to design a conversation across a multiplicity of platforms but also wrap it in a creative style that began to point towards a different future identity. It was an identity that embraced and celebrated Rhyl’s traditional seaside offer, but also spoke to younger and new demographics and reflected emerging opportunities to expand, renew and reinvent the town.
Using an interactive web forum, social media and traditional consultation methods we set out to explain new proposals but also invite ideas, comments and suggestions from the widest possible breadth of residents, businesses and those from further afield with fond memories of Rhyl.
The web and social media conversation generated a wealth of informed, intelligent and radical ideas that demonstrated that Rhyl people still cared passionately about their home town. The public exhibition attracted larger than expected numbers over the scheduled two days and was extended for a further week to enable people to contribute to re-thinking Rhyl. Not only did the specific regeneration proposals receive very positive endorsement from people and stakeholders, but the conversation created a much wider ranging debate about future possibilities. Specifically, it gave us content and inspiration for a Manifesto vision document that will guide the policy-makers and marketers who will manage the next stage of Rhyl’s renaissance.