A consultation on the proposals to create an Arts & Cultural Hub in Wrexham town centre has launched, with the compact timeframe possibly seeing full development plans get the green in just four months time.
In what appears to some to be a surprise move a consultation was launched yesterday on draft overview proposals on what the People’s Market could look like if it is to incorporate an Arts and Cultural Hub, with several other previously unseen proposals being aired.
Previous plans have been changed, with the several floor options including a roof terrace with cinema being pushed to a ‘later phase’, similarly the newer proposals react to research results and propose moving the main entrance to a featured facade on Market Street.
The consultation was described this morning as ‘at a stage where it can influence the final design’, with the public being asked how they feel about the plans and ‘could this work?’.
A timeframe was explained to Wrexham.com that could see a formal planning application submitted in November, with Councillors conducting Scrutiny on the plans this side of Christmas, with a possible Executive Board green light as early as January.
If the design is as fluid as explained earlier, it could mean that the plans have to be pulled together in as little as 30-60 days prior to a formal application.
The consultation event is taking place until October 10th with sketch designs on display in the South Arcade of the market, along with opportunities to comment with brief question sheet and chalkboards. The questions include specifics on the entrance location changes, and ‘What makes Wrexham special?’.
Concern has been privately expressed to Wrexham.com that negative reactions to the plans could scupper funding, with frustration expressed from members of the public over the lack of direct questions, traders unhappy about being kept in the loop on plans that affect their livelihoods, and members of the local arts community discontented with the public communication so far rather than explaining the wider benefits the arts bring to Wrexham’s reputation and local communities.
The most detailed plan is above, showing which space would be used primarily for what purpose. While Wrexham.com was looking one market trader did point out that there is no precise detail still for current stall holders, and that they had been told that specific areas had already been allocated for use.
A Council representative disagreed and stated that such information could not be correct as such decisions had not yet taken place. Speaking to others the ongoing issues between Wrexham Council and traders appear to continue, with market traders unsure of their futures and stating they have not been kept in the loop on plans.
Wrexham Council counter this by stating they hold ongoing meetings and inform traders with as much information they can furnish. It appears that the information that can be given is limited as it does not formally exist as of yet.
Several existing developments are used to illustrate possible space usage, and to paint a picture of how the Arts Hub could be used or be developed. On a note aside from the Arts Hub / People’s Market we do note the Bodhyfryd ‘redevelopment’ is highlighted along with Waterworld, but does not encompass the Magistrates Court however does include the Memorial Hall.
Wrexham.com readers will recall this article on an FOI that indicated as far back as 2013 such plans were being discussed, however with no public information as of yet on such redevelopment plans.
Several example use cases are illustrated under the title of ‘Research’, appearing to be theoretical people who could use the new Arts Hub rather than specific interviews – but with an odd focus on a ‘new library’ being situated in the People’s Market.
The examples show how a school child could visit the ‘new library’ to researching Bentley, and head to the top floor to be wowed by the views across Wrexham before popping to the lower foyer to have snack. The third example person is a Librarian, who it appears could work there, and the first being a mother with a young child specifically entering via the street entrance and then entering the ‘library’.
Thankfully it appears there is no surreptitious move for Wrexham’s Library, rather the creators of the presentations (referenced as Featherstone Young a London based architectural firm) reusing examples of work – specifically the Bentley Community Library.
The documents displayed in the market today referred to a ‘Cairn’ being in view from Chester Street, which for those with good eyesight such as the ‘mum with toddler’, can be seen in place 50 miles away in Wolverhampton .
Two elements of research appear to have been conducted, one based around car parking use in Wrexham and the other with data gathered via survey on pedestrian flows. Tesco’s carpark is seen as a large feeder to the town’s pedestrian traffic and aligned with the preference towards an easterly main entrance, there is no indication if there has been confirmation on the continuation of the store’s 3 hour free parking policy (for customers of course, and we at Wrexham.com obviously never park there to nip into town as we are sure no one else does!).
It was explained to Wrexham.com that the focus on the Market Street entrance was based off visitor flows and visual changes ought to improve that gateway to the town centre.
Along with the chalkboards setup in the market (pictured below) you can take part on an online survey (not yet active – we will post the link up when it comes online!), visit the markets to fill in a short 6 question sheet.
As part of the consultation questions will be distributed at the Town Centre Forum and Strategy Group meeting on 6th October and a number of other focus groups will be invited to the display including students from Coleg Cambria and a group from the Youth Senedd.
The disability forum, Reshaping Services and the Equality Reference Group will be invited to join the discussion as part of the ‘VVP master planning briefing’.
Wrexham.com has asked for comment from Wrexham Council on several elements of the consultation, and will hopefully update tomorrow with the answers.