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Centre for Alternative Technology takes multi-million-pound project into development phase

Centre for Alternative Technology takes multi-million-pound project into development phase

Home » Centre for Alternative Technology takes multi-million-pound project into development phase

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has appointed internationally-renowned architect firm, Haworth Tompkins, and planning and development specialists, Turley, under a consortium led by Faithful & Gould — to lead an ambitious masterplan which aims to create a world-class visitor experience at the Mid Wales eco centre.

Supported by funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund, CAT will now undertake extensive research and consultation with local people, businesses, partners, and stakeholders to help develop a robust business case that will underpin the case for both public and private sector investment. The proposal is amongst the initial Portfolio for the Mid Wales Growth Deal, and the business case will help set out the ask from the Growth Deal, alongside the private sector leverage that is anticipated in match funding, which will bring the plans to reality.

An environmental charity, eco centre and UK-leading provider of postgraduate environmental education, the proposed project will see the creation of new spaces for education in sustainable solutions; areas to deliver green skills for the future; and an immersive world-class tourism experience to inspire many more people to take action on environmental solutions.

Plans will be shaped by public consultation and research over the coming months — with the proposals focused on transforming CAT’s capacity to provide the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to achieve a zero-carbon future and sustainable society, while delivering a major contribution to the Mid Wales economy.

Interim Co-CEO at CAT, Eileen Kinsman, said:

Haworth Tompkins not only have robust experience but, crucially, they have a deep understanding and appreciation for environmentally-driven projects — giving us every confidence that they’ll help to realise our vision.

“Meanwhile, our work with Turley and other consortium partners including Rural Office for Architecture and Vital Ecology, will bring a wealth of experience to the project and will play an important part in the development phase.

“Community consultation is at the heart of our plans, and we’re excited to move into this next stage of development with our new partners — creating opportunities for local people, businesses, members, students and stakeholders alike to have their say on the future of CAT to ensure that we are creating the best possible benefits for the people, environment and economy of Mid Wales.”

Haworth Tompkins Director and project lead, Lucy Picardo, said:

“As co-founders of Architects Declare we are acutely aware of the climate and biodiversity emergency the planet faces and the urgent need to take radical positive action. As a team, regenerative design sits at the root of our work. We are especially excited to be working with CAT on this project, as it builds upon our own experience and interest to go further, adopting regenerative principles to achieve long-term positive (rather than neutral) impacts, for both the community and environment. 

“2023 will mark 50 years of CAT, our mission for this project is to support CAT to continue to educate audiences, provoke conversations and inspire positive behavioural change for the next 50 years and beyond.”

Andy Rumfitt, Senior Director and Head of Business Cases and Funding at Turley, added:

“We’re delighted to be able to continue our business case and consultation support for the £25 million expansion of the world renowned Centre for Alternative Technology. For more than 45 years CAT has been an inspirational test bed for eco-friendly ideas and technologies, and a centre of holistic sustainability thinking and learning. A key asset to Wales and the UK, it is now needed more than ever.”

There will be a series of community events taking place at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth and virtually in March and April — where there will be the opportunity to meet the project’s partners, hear about the plans, and share their views. To find out more about these events, to take part in a survey, and to stay up to date on the project developments, please visit the CAT website —

Project timeline:

  • 2019 – CAT takes part in public consultations and discussions on the Mid Wales Growth Deal along with a wide range of organisations and key stakeholders from across the region.
  • 2019-2020 – CAT’s Strategic Plan for 2020-2025 is developed, focusing on the need for a step-change in activities to maximise impact on solutions to the climate and biodiversity crisis. Investment in skills provision, the creation of an inspiring new visitor experience, and digital outreach to reach a much wider audience are amongst the key organisational objectives.
  • June 2020 — CAT submits a draft Strategic Outline Case to the Growing Mid Wales Board for inclusion in the Mid Wales Growth Deal Portfolio. This gives an overview of the vision for the development of a flagship sustainable tourism destination and regional sustainable skills hub as part of a major development of the CAT eco centre.
  • September 2021 — CAT project identified as a candidate for funding as part of the £110m Mid Wales Growth Deal Portfolio, alongside organisations including Montgomery Canal and Aberystwyth University.
  • November 2021 — CAT secures funding from UK Community Renewal Fund to support feasibility studies and development stages for next step towards securing Mid Wales Growth Deal funding
  • November 2021 – CAT appoints planning and development consultants Turley to refine the Strategic Outline Case.
  • December 2021 – CAT launches public tender process, inviting applications from consultants to support the development of detailed feasibility studies for the project.
  • January 2022 — CAT appoints Haworth Tompkins and Faithful & Gould consortiums to progress the next phase of the project: to develop the Outline Business Case, including a site and visitor experience masterplan.
  • July 2022 — CAT to submit Outline Business Case for next stage in the Mid Wales Growth Deal process.
  • 2022-23 — CAT to develop Full Business Case for the project for the final stages of Mid Wales Growth Deal decision-making.
  • Spring 2023 — Potential start date for Phase 1 of eco centre development.

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