Techniquest Glyndŵr have announced that a major funding package has been secured that means the long planned move to the old TJ Hughes building will finally happen.
Last month we reported how a planning application had been lodged for the building, to create an “exciting and engaging space for all explorers”.
It was 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, with Techniquest Glyndŵr saying they will be buying the freehold of the building.
Crucially the plans indicate that the much missed ‘cut through’ from Henblas Street to Chester Street would be reintroduced in some way as there are documents that label a ‘public right of way’, however ‘access control’ would be implemented for the science centre and activities.
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.
The bid for funding had the support of several key agencies in Wrexham including Wrexham Glyndŵr University and Wrexham County Borough Council who Techniquest Glyndŵr say ‘have been supporting the regeneration of the town centre’.
Techniquest Glyndŵr say: “The move will enable the Science Centre to make use of the much larger premises to offer an ambitious programme of science events and a much wider selection of interactive exhibits to the public and schools from across North Wales and North West England.
“This will offer an exciting and innovative programme of events and interactive experiences that will engage visitors from local communities and across the region with STEM.”
They added that the plans outlined in the bid ‘have also received widespread public support’, citing the ‘large numbers of local people who visited the temporary science centre pop up over the summer months of 2018’ as proof, adding: “Techniquest Glyndŵr is now looking to local industry to support us financially and in-kind as we work hard over the next two years to develop the site and even more exciting projects.
“The award of the funding begins an intensive 12-month period during which the town centre building will be purchased and converted into a fully operational science discovery centre to replace the existing centre on the Plas Coch Campus of Wrexham Glyndŵr University.”
Scot Owen, Techniquest Glyndŵr Centre Manager said: “We’re thrilled to have secured the future of Techniquest Glyndŵr within the heart of our community here in Wrexham. This move has been part of our vision for quite some time and now we’re able to actively begin to put our plans in place.
“Techniquest Glyndŵr is committed to Wrexham and the town centre community, which goes hand in hand with inspiring young minds through STEM subjects. Having somewhere so embedded within the community will only be a positive for all.
“We now continue to look forward in what is a very exciting time for both ourselves and Wrexham as a whole, with a fantastic opportunity to create something special for our region.”
Wrexham’s MP Ian Lucas told us, “I welcome the announcement of this very exciting and ambitious project. I’m thrilled it is going ahead. It opens up major benefits in the regeneration of the town centre, while also encouraging interest in scientific innovation among young people.
“The development is on an important site, with great potential, and I’d like to congratulate Scot and his team at Techniquest Glyndwr on having such a far-sighted vision for Wrexham. This is a prime example of what can be achieved with collaboration, vision and hard work.”
Mark Pritchard, Wrexham Council Leader said: “This is excellent news for Techniquest Glyndŵr and the town centre. It will really open up this part of town once again and I would like to both congratulate staff and all the Partners involved and thank them for their hard work and collaboration in securing this funding.
“The development will be part of the town centre regeneration which will see the Henblas Street and Chester Street areas brought into residential and retail use.
Cllr Pritchard also noted another large vacant space nearby which has been rumoured for years to be filled ‘soon’, adding “With an announcement expected soon about the former BHS store the future is looking bright for this area of town.”
Lynda Powell, Director of North Wales Science said: “This is absolutely great news – for Techniquest Glyndŵr, for Wrexham town centre, and for STEM in North and Mid Wales.
“This funding will help secure Techniquest Glyndŵr in a key town centre location – one which is seeing a range of private and public sector investment. The development will be a key part of the regeneration of our town centre.
“It means that Wrexham Glyndŵr University can continue extending the community work it has been doing with its portfolio of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. That work is an investment in our regional skills base that has been has developed alongside industry partners, and it will help to boost our economy for years to come.”
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