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Office space in Wrexham could be used to provide education for vulnerable children

The unit at Ellice Way, Wrexham (Source: Wrexham Council planning documents)

OFFICE space on the outskirts of Wrexham city centre could be used to keep education and training facilities in the area for youngsters with specialist needs.

Wrexham Council’s planning department has received an application for the change of use of a unit on Ellice Way at the city’s Yale Business Park.

The application has been made by Aspris Children’s Services which supports vulnerable children and those with autism, learning difficulties, social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

Currently they provide education from two sites in Wrexham, at King Street in the city centre and a site in Rhosddu.

They intend to alter the use of the office space at Unit G at Ellice Way so it can be used for education purposes, which includes an additional student training kitchen/café.

Planning permission is also sought for a new entrance door and canopy to the south east, as well as the installation of a covered cycle shelter.

A supporting statement produced by Alder King planning consultants on behalf of the applicant states: “Aspris runs independent special schools and colleges and its proposal for Ellice Way is to provide an education facility for day pupils only.

“The applicant currently provides its education from two buildings in Wrexham, at King Street and Ty Dewi Sant.

“The desire for some time has to be to bring the students together under one roof to better meet the needs of young people and provide sufficient space for the students.

“In particular, there is a need for multiple rooms to provide the education setting required, complemented by therapy, sensory and quiet rooms.

“The two existing buildings simply do not have the space to meet these needs. In seeking to relocate to a single building, it is important to the applicant and its students to remain within the town to ensure a continuity of education for the students.”

Most recently the building has been occupied by Plastipak, a global packaging and recycling business, but as working practices for administrative staff have changed since the pandemic, the company has decided the unit is too large for their needs.

According to the planning documents, the applicants have focused their search for a new premises to within the Wrexham city centre area.

The supporting statement adds: “The existing provision already has a registered capacity of up to 50 students between the ages of 16-25 and this would remain the case.

“Students would have social emotional and mental health needs, and/or autistic spectrum conditions, and associated conditions.

“While the site will registered for up to 50 students, in practice it would be unlikely to have all students on the site at any one time, as students would also engage in off-site activities and learning and some would not attend on a five-day a week basis in any case.

“It is anticipated that the number of staff on site at any one time would be no more than 32, and generally fewer.

“Aspris provides specialist education which has students as their focus. They provide bespoke educational models and a project based learning curriculum to address the requirements of individual pupils to help them attain their goals.

“The learning environments provided are highly effective in supporting students who have been unable to engage in mainstream education. The site itself provides ideal space to meet the needs of students and importantly allows them to remain within the town with which they are familiar.

“The proposed change of use of the building will facilitate the co-location of Aspris’ two current facilities in an accessible and modern premises.”

Wrexham Council planners will make a decision on the plans at a future date.