Plans for a narrow gauge railway have been submitted as part of a new major visitor attraction.
The proposals have been entered by the Brymbo Heritage Project, which is looking to completely transform the Brymbo Iron and Steelworks site into a ‘vibrant, heritage-led, mixed-use visitor destination and community / enterprise hub’.
The ambitious restoration project received the backing of Wrexham Council in 2017, who agreed to back proposals to apply for additional funding to help kick-start the project.
The support saw the trust attract nearly £2,000,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Create your Space program, allowing it to kick-start its Roots to Shoots initiative, which looks at ways of making use of former industrial open spaces in and around the village.
Earlier Wrexham.com reported that the project been awarded just under £1.1m by the BIG Lottery to support its ‘Brymbo Heritage Area: A 300 Million Year Story’ project.
New plans submitted to Wrexham Council for the site include the creation of track and maintenance facilities on the former scrapyard area near Blast Road, along with full size heritage railway carriages.
The application forms part of the heritage group’s ambitious £10m vision to restore the industrial site and surrounding landscape as a global tourist attraction, with a learning centre, country park and space for community events.
The plans will also breathe new life into the nearby Brymbo Fossil Forest, a major site of geological interest with fossils dating back more than 300 million years.
In a statement accompanying the proposals, the heritage group said the railway will be used in future to transport visitors around the site.
They said: “Historically there were extensive railway networks on the site and beyond, used as part of the industrial process to transport materials. This has been key in drawing up the proposals.
“The proposed scheme is for a narrow-gauge railway maintenance building which will support a future phase of railway network within the heritage area.
“The maintenance building will be supported by associated ancillaries: a lamp hut, shipping container, two static heritage train carriages on tracks and limited car parking spaces for staff.
“Part of the wider masterplan will be to use the narrow-gauge railways as a form of transport around the heritage area.”
A previous application was submitted in July for a discovery building showcasing some of the fossils which have been discovered at the site.
The first version of the building will consist of three shipping containers containing laboratory equipment.
By 2019 the trust is hoping to double it in size to improve viewing access, before a full size facility covering the entire forest is built by 2030.
Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers described the submission of the latest application as a ‘major milestone’ for the redevelopment of the area.
He said: “I am sure there will be much interest in this application particularly as a result of the long and rich local history of railways associated with the former iron and steelworks site and other industry in the area.
“The Brymbo Heritage Project has come along way and I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of everyone involved as well as the support from the Lottery, Wrexham Council and the various organisations who have been involved to date.
“The submission of planning applications associated with the project is a major milestone for the project and I would encourage residents to participate in the consultation.”
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
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