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Future plans taking shape

Thank you for your input so far in helping shape the future of CAT

Future plans taking shape

A major project to create an innovative sustainable skills hub and inspiring new visitor experience at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is continuing to be developed.

Updated April 2024.

Plans include new and refurbished teaching and workshop spaces, exhibition spaces, additional on-site accommodation, an expanded café, nature trails, and an inspiring new visitor experience – allowing us to welcome many more visitors and learners to the Centre, and to re-open our doors to walk-in visitors.

Supporting sustainable skills for the future

The planned sustainable skills hub will allow CAT’s postgraduate students, course participants and visiting school, college and university groups to gain hands-on experience in everything from retrofit and low impact building to energy, food and ecology.

Plans include the deep retrofit and repurposing of two existing buildings to create practical teaching spaces, skills workshops, studio space, laboratories, and outdoor demonstration areas.

Meanwhile, a new outdoor ‘forum’ is planned for the centre of the site – a large covered amphitheatre space for practical demonstrations, talks, concerts and other events, allowing the Centre to host more group visits and larger conferences and events.

CAT Co-CEO, Eileen Kinsman said:

“We know that with the urgency of climate change and with the wider destruction of the natural world, we need to help more people and organisations to gain the skills, knowledge, networks and confidence to take positive, practical action.

“Plans for adaptable, custom-built learning spaces, workshops and labs will allow us to cater for a wider range of groups and courses, and offer an enhanced learning experience.”

Additional and refurbished accommodation and an expanded catering hub will also add to capacity for visiting groups, and allow CAT to run more residential courses and special events.

Sketch of the planned new forum, showing a covered amphitheatre in the centre of the site
A large covered amphitheatre will create space for practical demonstrations, talks and events, allowing us to host more group visits and larger events

Inspiring, informing and enabling a new generation of visitors

A planned new visitor experience will bring more visitors to the centre and inspire many more people to think about what they can do in their workplaces, communities, and in their day-to-day lives to help tackle climate change and wider environmental and sustainability issues.

Plans include a new welcome hub, a refurbishment of our iconic cliff railway (which is now over 30 years old), and a new introductory exhibition exploring environmental issues and solutions. Additional themed exhibition zones around the eco centre will cover topics such as our place in nature and the incredible diversity of life on earth; the future of the built environment, from city-scale to our own homes; food and growing; clean energy; and more.

Inspiring stories of people, communities and organisations across Wales and around the world will help to bring solutions to life, whilst hands-on activities, tours, art, live demonstrations, and outdoor spaces for learning-through-play will all help to create an immersive and unique visitor experience.

Sketch of the planned new arrival and reception building
A new welcome hub and introductory exhibition space forms part of an inspiring new visitor experience

A regenerative approach

We aim to develop and showcase best-practice regenerative approaches in the delivery of the project, helping illustrate what’s possible, and influencing other development projects.

Eileen Kinsman said:

“At the heart of our plans is a truly regenerative approach. We’ll be prioritising refurbishment and re-use of existing spaces over new buildings, using low impact materials, minimising energy-in-use, maximising the use of renewable energy, and looking for more opportunities to support the site’s rich biodiversity.

“As well as attracting many more learners and visitors to the Centre and to the local area, the plans are expected to see the creation of a number of new jobs and opportunities for local suppliers, benefiting the local community and the Mid Wales economy for many years to come.”

The Centre is currently open for pre-booked visits, including courses, events, groups and B&B, having temporarily closed to walk-in visitors in November at a challenging time for both the charity sector and visitor attractions. With the planned investment and renewal, the new visitor experience is expected to attract many more people, allowing us to re-open to walk-in visitors.

Timing of the project is funding-dependent, with the plans included in the initial projects being considered for investment within the Mid Wales Growth Deal portfolio, and with match-funding being sourced by CAT from a number of other sources, including charitable trusts and foundations and individual supporters. Development of plans to-date has been supported by the UK Community Renewal Fund, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and a small number of individual donors, and CAT is currently exploring options for funding the further development of its plans.

Plans so far have been shaped by input from a wide range of CAT supporters, members, students, the local community and other key stakeholders. More details of the project plans will be shared in a series of in-person and online events later this year – we’re very much looking forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions.


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