Posted: Thu 16th May 2019

Ambitious plans to turn former TJ Hughes into science centre lodged – includes ‘public right of way’ cut through for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, May 16th, 2019

A long-standing empty shop in the heart of Wrexham town centre could soon be transformed into a permanent science centre.

Techniquest Glyndwr have submitted plans to create an “exciting and engaging space for all explorers” in the former TJ Hughes building on Henblas Street.

The organisation has been using the former store as a pop-up venue over the past 12 months, however ambitious plans have now been unveiled which could see it make the move permanent.

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.

In February 2018 it was announced that a 12 month agreement for the science discovery centre to use the former TJ Hughes has been reached.

At the time it was stated that there were hopes that the ‘pop-up event’s will be a prelude to the ambitious plans of North Wales Science Limited, the charity that runs Techniquest Glyndŵr, to move its operational base to the building in the centre of Wrexham in 2019.

It was later announced that Techniquest Glyndŵr had launched a bid to secure funding for its new venture.

Now in new plans submitted to Wrexham Council the two storey building could be completely transformed to include an activity wall, planetarium, laboratory, workshops, a ‘central fun zone’, shop and meeting space.

The supporting documents, which have been created by DAY id, show plans to create separate zones in the building – including potentially converting the central escalators in the building into a giant climbing frame and slide.

Other suggestions include 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 is also suggested that sections of the two floors would not be used and would be sub let.

In the accompanying documents to the application, DAY id explain: “The industrial heritage of the site and the historical points of interest can be woven into the story of the site.

“Whilst not being the prime objective, a link to how industry and science can play a major part in how we can tell our stories and illustrate this knowledge.

“We believe that the brief is to create an exciting and engaging space for all explorers.

“The space needs to create visually stunning exhibitions that will demonstrate interactive science led installations.”

They add: “The industrial setting will expose the inner working of the building for all to see. The structure, pipe-work and galvanised cable trays will be a feature of the space.

“The existing block work walls can be simply painted out grey to let the exhibitions set the narrative for each zone. The industrial palette will be the gel that will knit all of these spaces together.

“A constant element that the space should adopt is a fun storytelling element that is both engaging and interactive. Don’t just broadcast, lets start a conversation with the visitors.

“By engaging with people with key exhibits, we can create physical interactions that provide a fun way of interacting with people and more importantly the kids!”

The application will be considered for approval by Wrexham Council at a later date.

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