‘…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ T S Elliot

On 30 June 2018, the project came to an end with a celebratory event marking the installation of  Cleddau Reaches – a public artwork sited on multiple locations along the river and designed by Studio Weave – an award winning art and architecture practice.

A full report of the project is available as a pdf download here. The conclusions from the report are reproduced in full below.

It is still too early to assess the legacy and change in Haverfordwest from the point of view of a ten-year vision and timescale. However, and remarkably, there are significant signs of change – especially if these are viewed in terms of the key performance indicators, which Confluence adopted as a yardstick to assess change:

  • Changing perceptions
  • Getting people involved
  • Discovering what art can be
  • Influencing decision makers.

Reviewing the objectives contained within the original Confluence project plan tells a story of surpassing expectations:

More than 7000 attendances in total were recorded with at least 3000 being unique individuals against a target of 1000.

More than 50 artists, arts organisations and regeneration professionals from Pembrokeshire, Wales and the UK contributed to the commissioning programme, including one high profile capital commission, with more than 90% living and working in Haverfordwest or surrounding locations in West Wales.

A cohesive plan for the river and its immediate environs has been achieved through the development of the Haverfordwest framework and masterplan of August 2016.

A number of key regeneration projects highlighted within the framework are at various stages of development championed by diverse organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors including:

  • Pembrokeshire County Council’s new Riverside Library: a £4.5m project opening Autumn 2018 that will not only provide a 21st century cultural amenity for local people but will also house a new gallery for the National Library of Wales to exhibit its collection.
  • Haverhub: a new CIC organisation developing the Old Post Office as a community hub to include a range of mixed community/arts/learning and business use and a new performance venue in a key building on Haverfordwest’s riverside. The project combines adult learning, community uses/ hire, leisure and work facilities in a central riverside location in Haverfordwest. Planning has been submitted and funding secured for repairs and phased alterations scheduled to complete by end March 2019.
  • Paddlewest: a new private enterprise bringing boating activities back onto the river in the town centre and the lower tidal reaches was launched in the spring of 2018.
  • The river corridor: Pembrokeshire County Council in partnership with the National Resources Wales (NRW) and Haverfordwest Town Council are developing a project for infrastructure improvements along the river corridor creating a circular route and town centre greening – similar to the linear park.
  • The Saltings: A Town Council project to enhance a former rubbish tip on a 10-acre site on the west bank of the river is re-connecting the area with steps and a boardwalk linking the site with the ancient Priory ruins and the town. New tree planting and formation of paths has been carried out to begin the transformation of the former wasteland site.

Members of the partnership have been invited on to a range of platforms to disseminate our findings to other market towns in Pembrokeshire and across Wales.

“In five years’ time and ten years’ time will we be able to see how this ‘artisan town’ became an artisan town? When we look back and do the audit trails, I can see Confluence being an important piece in the jigsaw, and I guess history will judge just how impactful it’s been”. – Dr Steven Jones Director of Development Pembrokeshire County Council

Continuing to involve stakeholders and put in place a mechanism for engaging in implementing the vision set out in the Haverfordwest masterplan remains complex as it is often unclear where responsibility lies. An all-encompassing solution to involving the community and the various stakeholder groups and individuals in planning change remains elusive.

With individuals, groups and organisations, some partnering and working in ways that appear collaborative and others working more independently, a more decentralized and unstructured community- led process is emerging.

“I think what’s most significant about Confluence for me is the possibility of things coming alive again and seeing that it’s growing. Like the Yeoman starting to do arty events and the Creative Common, for instance. I guess everything has a cycle and maybe it is Haverfordwest’s turn to come out of this period of depression and liberate what it is, which is a phenomenally beautiful place, full of creative people. – Daniel Settatree, artist

Working outside their everyday practice and roles and collaborating across disciplines, there have been huge opportunities for learning and reflective practice within the organisations that make up the partnership.

The website continues to provide an archive documenting the project, as well as a resource to disseminate our findings. Using the experience and all the learning arising from it to shape what comes next will fall to each of the partners and all of the countless individuals, organisations and networks that have played a part over the last four years.

Art, music and creativity bring communities together; people share ideas and wonderful things always come out of that process. – Confluence 2018 online survey respondent

Image credits Confluence: Picton Gateway – Cleddau Reaches, Hywl by Ruth Sargeant – part of PLATFORM, Vital Places II, Great Place workshops as part of Haverfordwest Festival Week 2017.