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how bold is your vision?

A project like Changing Chelmsford allows local people to decide the future of where they live. The aim was to develop a strategic vision for the town; retaining links with the past while creating an identity for the future.

The essential elements to success were:

  • Recruiting committed individuals – you need to include people from across the local community (the RSA Fellowship is a great place to start)

  • Establishing a formal organisation – essential if continuity is to be maintained (Changing Chelmsford is now a Community Interest Company)

  • Rigorous planning – the key to making progress. To quote Abraham Lincoln: ‘given six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend the first four sharpening the axe’.



The aim of city status was achieved, however, Chelmsford has continued to evolve on a positive trajectory.

Changing Chelmsford holds an annual Ideas Festival, offering an ambitious programme of talks, presentations and debates, and has established the Ideas Hub as a city centre community space and work hub, open to all.

The 2014 Ideas Festival was held from October 20 to November 2, and delivered a packed fortnight of more than 65 innovative events, including hands-on events and talks for all ages.

The method, strategy and reasons why the project was successful is highly applicable to other towns around the UK.