The first public seeds of the ‘Master Plan’ for the Town Centre were revealed yesterday, ahead of formal presentations this morning.
Members of Wrexham Town Centre Forum were yesterday presented with outline time line and an overview of the Town Centre plan, which includes the Bodhyfyrd site, with members told that the plans are still in their ‘infancy stage’.
Work on the masterplan has been ongoing for the several months with a ‘Masterplan Team’ made up of the Council’s Economic and Planning departments working together, gathering evidence and engaging with stakeholders with a view to developing a preferred strategy for the whole town centre by the summer this year.
Lead Officer for the Town Centre Masterplan, Chris Smith told the Forum that a ‘considerable amount of study and research’ had been undertaken to help understand what the vision and the objective of the town centre is for the next 15 years.
Speaking about the masterplan, Mr Smith said: “We are compiling a study, including research into retail needs, transport and housing markets to get an overview where Wrexham is at the moment.
“We have done soft market testing in the town to see what aspirations are in the town centre. We are pulling information together now into broad ideas on where we would like to take the town centre. From members (Councillors) we have a draft vision – a 21st century town for people to live in, invest in and visit.”
Mr Smith added that members were looking at the evidence required to support the masterplan and that any proposals would have to go through planning and the LDP (Local Development Plan) process.
The masterplan focuses largely on the Bodhyfryd site, which includes the Police Station, Magistrate’s Court, other minority land holdings although there was debate on where the ‘line’ that defines the town centre should be drawn.
Over the past 12 months there has been much speculation regarding the future of the Bodhyfryd site, with the demolition of the police tower scheduled to take place in 2016.
As the masterplan is still in its early stages, little detail was provided with regard to what could potentially be developed on the Bodhyfryd site or elsewhere yet it is hoped that once a strategy is developed then initial ideas can be ‘fleshed out’.
Mr Smith added: “At the moment we don’t have a clear picture as to where Bodhyfyd site is going. The estate is largely held in public purse.”
With regards to the development of the masterplan, members of the Town Centre Forum were told that the document will be developed Wrexham Council – however there will be aspects which will rely on ‘expertise from the outside’ via consultants.
The Forum were told by Mr Smith that there were a ‘series of objectives around the town’s sense of identity, residential provision and improving facilities to allow people to live in the town centre’.
He said: “We don’t want to out to the public with ideas that are not realistic.”
The Leader of Wrexham Council was in attendance and said: “The master plan is in its infancy. It is on the start of the journey.”
A draft of the masterplan is expected to be complete by this summer and will go out for public consultation later in the year.
The more public journey starts this morning with some stakeholders invited to a series of workshops taking place sharing a ‘Draft Strategy’ with feedback being noted.
A draft strategy was not presented to the Town Centre Forum, with forum member Kevin Critchley observing: “Its hard to make a comment on the town centre plan if we don’t know what it is.”
(Wrexham.com last month asked Wrexham Council if a representative from the Master Plan team would be open to a Q&A style webchat in the style held with local stakeholders via our forums – we will update readers if/when that occurs)