Revisiting Rhyl: a study of land use, cover and value since 1990
Authors: Gale, T.
Conference: Sea Change: Coastal Heritage and Climate Change
Dates: 4-6 September 2019Abstract:
This paper revisits and updates research reported in Gale (2005) on the material and symbolic transformation of Rhyl, North Wales as a pleasure resort in the twentieth century. Earlier episodes of capital investment and disinvestment had left it with an aging assortment of visitor attractions and amenities. A number of these were demolished in the 1970s and 1980s to make way for new developments which have had mixed success in resurrecting the tourist trade. Meanwhile, significant reductions to the resort’s serviced and self-catering accommodation base, and changes to land use and cover, diminished its capacity to attract and accommodate tourists. In the two decades since this research was conducted there has been new investment in budget hotel accommodation, ‘family-friendly’ restaurants, leisure facilities and a retail park. However, there is a danger of repeating the mistakes of earlier years with additions to the built environment that have little or no connection to the seaside (shopping malls and warehouses, chain stores and restaurants, street furniture and the like, which could be found in almost any town or city). The paper appraises recent efforts to create/ restore a distinctive ‘sense of place’ in Rhyl, and the danger of it becoming yet another identikit resort or clone town.