The Welsh government has now published Small Towns, Big Issues. Our independent report broadens the frame to look beyond declining town centres and analyses three small towns in their hinterland. It highlights how mass automobility and permissive planning have since 1980 allowed edge of town development and out of town commuting. Hence the difficulty of realising the current planning ideal of compact centred towns with active travel and overlap of live/ work/spend. The report draws on official statistics and on big data from mobile phone usage and property transactions. These highlight the business model problems which limit in town redevelopment and the easy profits which incentivise edge of town development; they also establish the continued advantage of town centres as places of sociability which have much longer visitor dwell times than edge of town retail. The report concludes with an argument about how imagination, organisation and new business models could address the embedded problems of Welsh towns. Policies on edge of town use and development are here as important as putting together the business model conditions which will allow urban alliances to deliver a stream of social renewal projects.