A vision sold to the people of Wrexham, including fans of Wrexham FC and described by one member of the Council’s Planning Committee as a ‘gamble’, appear to have ended with a section up for sale.
The corner left section of the above picture, the former Dickens Garage site and most recently Nightingale House Hospice shop, has been place up for sale.
The listing with Mason Owen and Bolton Birch features the ‘very prominent location’ and closeness to Wrexham Football Club as highlighted attractions to the plot.
The particulars read: “The site currently comprises a prominent showroom fronting Mold Road with potential development land to the rear. It benefits from existing access directly onto Mold Road and also has access from Crispin Lane to the side.
“The site could, therefore, be split, if so required, and an indication of a possible division is shown on the attached plan but space for access from Crispin Lane will be reserved. The site provides a total area of circa 1.5 acres and the plan indicates a split to provide 0.63 acres fronting Mold Road and 0.92 acres to the rear. The existing showroom has a frontage of some 24.39m a depth of 23.02m and a total area over 2 floors in the order of 8000 sq ft.”
There is no price attached to the sales listing, but the sale appears to be final rather than a leasehold: “The premises are available freehold as a whole or a possible split may be considered into a front retail site/premises and a rear redevelopment site.”
The planned ‘Wrexham Village’ development was due in three stages, as indicated in a planning document above dating back to 2009 with the section for sale believed to be ‘Phase 2’. The overall vision was presented along with the top picture of several student blocks and a brand new stand for Wrexham Football Club, who were also due to be benefiting financially from any development.
The planning decision was passed at a Wrexham Council Planning meeting in April 2009, a meeting that then manager Dean Saunders bizarrely also attended. Cllr Richard Caldicote from Penycae said at the meeting prior to the vote “We have got to gamble and listen to our Officers”, with many asking for deferment.
Writing in 2009 Lawrence Isted, then ‘Chief Planning Officer’ said: “The Council has approved planning applications for the redevelopment of land to the south of the ground with the express intention of helping secure its continued operation and the construction of a replacement stand.”
The plans were sold to fans and politicians alike using the below leaflet issued at a football match, with one club representative accusing the Wrexham Supporters Trust of attempting to ‘derail’ the development plans and thus risking the very existence of the club by questioning the plans.
The representative, Paul Retout, has recently made headlines after offering ‘tax seminars’ to fellow inmates while staying at Her Majesty’s Pleasure after being convicted of fraud.
Since then Wrexham FC has changed hands with former owners ‘businessmen’ Geoff Moss from Farndon and Ian Roberts from Ruthin based ‘Roberts Homes’ selling the carpark of the club to a company they themselves owned to develop student flats on (Phase 1 area above), sold the Racecourse ground itself to Glyndwr University and sold the club to fans owned group Wrexham Supporters Trust for £1.
Prior to their takeover the club owned the freehold to the carpark, the ground and was being run at a break even point under administration.
The club itself which was sold for a pound was at the time in a £442,000 black hole at the time of purchase. Information released after the purchase of the club by the Wrexham Supporters Trust revealed a £100,000 cash injection from the WST to keep the company going during the drawn out purchase saga. Another part of the debt left included a £24k VAT bill that was unpaid, and a £129,986 loan due to Roberts Homes – former owner Ian Roberts’ company.
Fast forwarding from 2011 to the present day the club is now prudently run off the pitch with prospects of an exciting season on the pitch ahead with further investment in the team. The University still own the ground, for now, and have spent money improving it.
The only recent positive Wrexham Village news we can find is the information that a petition to get the ‘eyesore’ sorted out nearby has spurred the Wrexham Council planning department into action – resulting in a clean up of an attached site.
In 2011 it was reported in the Daily Post that Wrexham Council ‘officials’ were ‘probing the Racecourse deal’ to discover if any pledges made at the time of planning consent had any impact and were being honoured. At the time of writing we cannot find any outcome of that on the Wrexham.gov.uk site, or if any ‘probe’ was conducted.
The redevelopment site has several false dawns, perhaps the most excessive was from the early 90’s (pictured below) which promised a £40m office development, replacement to the Turf public house, hotel development, leisure development, bingo hall, cinema, ten pin bowling alley and swimming pool and multi-storey car parks. Of course, this did not happen despite the public being told in 1991 ‘work will begin at the end of the year’.
The corner site had been previously recognised as a gateway area to the town, with the building line of the ex-garage buildings in line with The Turf rather than up to the road itself. Historically this was to allow any future redevelopment of highways into town over the nearby railway bridge to be extended rather than limited by buildings.
Due to the new sales listing of the site there is no information of possible interested parties as of yet. Due to the history of the site and its importance to the town and associated institutions it is likely any new buyers intentions and associated planning decisions will be well scrutinised.