A voluntary group looking to regenerate the Cefn Mawr area have unveiled ambitious plans for the area – including attempting to secure a community property at auction and the creation of a cable car system.
The potential blueprint for the community has been created by the PKC Group, who are looking to attract a fraction of the estimated 400,000 annual visitors to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to the Cefn Mawr area.
Part of the regeneration plans including a bid to try and secure the Ebenezer on Crane Street – a building described as former lead project of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) – if and when it goes to auction.
The building, which opened in 2007 after undergoing a £1.5 million regeneration, has remained empty and been subjected to vandalism since its closure in 2013.
The Ebenezer stands on the opposite side of the street to the Holly Bush Inn, home of the PKC Group. During the past six years since closure of the Ebenezer the staff and owner of the Holly Bush Inn, David Metcalfe, and other shop keepers in the community say they have had to stop vandalism to the Ebenezer on a number of occasions, for the ‘sake of safety’ if nothing else.
Mr Metcalfe says the Ebenezer has been a “white elephant in the community and the two main reasons for failure are a lack of foot fall and no parking”.
If the property is secured at auction it hoped that Ebenezer will be set up as an Arts & Visitor Centre.
The ambitious plans for the area also include the revival of a cable car system – proposals which were first announced back in 2012.
Mr Metcalfe explained: “This will link the Windborne Gate parking lot to the village centre of Cefn Mawr. The PKC Group estimate that if WCBC, CRT (Canal & River Trust) and Eastman Chemicals will work with them, the Cable Car and Zip Wires will attract a minimum of 10% of the people visiting the aqueduct.
“This will bring about 30,000 people into our village where the Ebenezer will be set up as an Arts & Visitor Centre”, stressing these plans are only possible if they can secure it at auction.
“With 300 parking slots at Windborne Gate and a minimum of 30,000 visitors to the Ebenezer, they will be busy.
“The groups plan is to run the Ebenezer on a not for profit basis for the community displaying Local Art Work, Local History and Local Information. It will be an Arts and Visitor Centre for the Cefn & Cefn Mawr as proposed in their business plan of 2015.
He added: “More needs to be done. The current situation with over 400,000 people visiting our area every year, and no benefit seen in our community is grossly wrong.”
To be able to complete the works the PKC Group are seeking a loan from the Business Development Bank of Wales.
Mr Metcalfe says “We are seeking a loan to show commitment but will also be looking for grant funding where available. These works are expensive, but unless we get on with it, who will?”
“The group have been campaigning for ten years for their community to be reconnected to the aqueduct in practical ways that will bring meaningful numbers of visitors into the community and end the segregation of Cefn Mawr.”
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