The Oriel Gallery has been mooted as a potential ‘town centre base’ for North Wales Police.
The possible move would come as a result of the development of an alternative Arts / Cultural Hub in the town centre, which would leave the Oriel Gallery space vacant.
In a report due to go before the Executive Board next week it notes: “The Council has had a long standing vision to ‘create a gallery that will be a hub for cultural and creative activity in the visual and applied arts in Wrexham County Borough. There have been previous plans to redevelop facilities at the existing location and in other locations none of which have come to fruition.”
Earlier this year it was announced that WCBC had been successful in their bid for a ‘Vibrant and Viable Places‘ grant, of which £772,400 has been allocated to developing an Arts and Cultural Hub in the town centre.
The new ‘hub’ would accommodate a gallery space with museum lighting and environmental climate controls; additional flexible gallery space that could also present a programme based on a variety of media and provide opportunities for performance art; artist studio spaces and a a Lifelong Learning Centre providing flexible space for learning and outreach projects.
Additionally there would be a reception area, gallery shop and cafe/bar.
Previously we have reported that the Peoples Market has been mooted as the potential location for the towns new Arts / Cultural Hub, however there is no indication in the report as to where the new facility would be. However no changes would be made to the library – which lies adjacent to the Oriel.
Since the announcement that Wrexham’s Police Station is due to be knocked down in 2016, rumours have bene circulating that North Wales Police would be looking to relocate to the Oriel Gallery space for a ‘town centre base’.
The main ‘Police HQ’ for Wrexham is due to be built on land on the Llay Industrial Estate – however North Wales Police have made clear in the past that they would also be keeping some form of base in the town centre.
Seven sites have been considered for the new town centre location, including: The Guildhall, Bersham, Civic Centre, Yale, Groves, Nine Acre and Puleston. Two sites on Grosvenor Road were also considered, however these locations were not seen suitable.
Within the Executive Board report it notes: “North Wales Police have shown an interest in maintaining an in town presence as part of its review of services; an Options Appraisal undertaken by NWP has concluded that the Oriel Wrecsam is considered an ideal location.”
Details as to why the building has been considered are also listed, with reasons covering:- Within the vicinity of the Courts building, good visibility for the police from a public perspective, good central location for town patrols and the ideal size building for adapting into a police station.
Inspector Paul Wycherley said: “As it is widely known, the existing building has reached the end of its life. There is a new headquarters in Llay underway, which I imagine will be operating in 18 months or so.
“We have always said we need a town centre base for the busiest and biggest town in North Wales. A number of areas have been considered and the Oriel Wrecsam is one, however nothing is final.”
The timescale for relocating policing services in Wrexham in time to be in place by November 2016 require possession of their preferred site by March 2015.
The full details of the report can be found on Page 43 of the Executive Board Agenda here. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.