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“Ambitious plans” to turn former TJ Hughes building into science and discovery centre approved

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Sunday, Jun 30th, 2019.

Ambitious plans to turn a long-standing empty shop into a science and discovery centre have been approved.

Techniquest Glyndŵr lodged the plans for an “exciting and engaging space for all explorers” in the former TJ Hughes building on Henblas Street earlier this year.

The plans for the former department store, which has been vacant for eight years, include an activity wall, planetarium, laboratory, workshops, a ‘central fun zone’, shop and meeting space.

In the application submitted earlier this year plans show the building will be spilt into separate zones – including potentially converting the central escalators in the building into a giant climbing frame and slide.

Other suggestions included taking visitors on a journey through physical activities, creative and visual elements, interactive space and areas with an “overarching motive” – such as environmental matters.

Plans indicate that the much missed ‘cut through’ from Henblas Street to Chester Street would be reintroduced in some way as there is documents that label ‘public right of way’, however ‘access control’ would be implemented for the science centre and activities.

It also includes ancillary restaurant and cafe use, and indoor recreation and escape rooms – along with “ancillary restaurant and cafe use”.

In a planning document released ahead of a meeting next week, it has been confirmed that the application has been approved via a delegated decision by the council’s chief officer of planning and regulatory.

Last week Wrexham.com reported that Techniquest Glyndŵr had secured a major funding package which will allow the long planned move to the old TJ Hughes building to finally happen.

The organisation had been using the former store as a pop-up venue over the past 12 months, however it is the first time that any plans to permanently reopen the former TJ Hughes building have been put forward since the retailer closed back in 2011.

The £2.8million project includes £1.75 million grant funding awarded by the Inspiring Science Fund and £750,000 from Welsh Government’s Targeted Regeneration Investment programme.

The Inspiring Science Fund supports science centres across the UK, helping them rethink what they do and what they offer to the public. The scheme is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome.

Pictures: Planning documents

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