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WREXHAM – Council looks at how it can regenerate the ‘Gwenfro Brook’ area of the city

WREXHAM Council is not giving up on transforming a part of the city centre considered to be a flood-risk zone.

The council’s business and economy scrutiny committee discussed the authority’s ambitious Placemaking plan after gathering in feedback from public consultation on what improvements people want to see in Wrexham’s public spaces.

One of the parts of the city in need of regeneration being looked at is the Brook Street, Bridge Street and Pen Y Bryn area dubbed ‘Gwenfro Brook’ in the plan.

But this area of the city has been considered a flood-risk zone by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

The draft plan, amended after the consultation, says residential use could be an option for the area but if not – it could be turned into a public green space.

It states: “Either separately or in combination the Bridge and Brook Street sites represent significant opportunities to redefine and create a residential community within walking distance of the city centre.

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Brook Street, Wrexham. Source – Google Street View

“Both sites enjoy good access to the walking, cycling and road network and other social infrastructure including schools, parks and amenities.

“The development of the sites could be coordinated with the rejuvenation of the commercial properties fronting Brook Street to create a local neighbourhood centre, supported by improvements to the public realm.

“As both sites sit within a C2 Flood Risk area, an acceptable solution remains a significant challenge.

“However, sustainable drainage, low carbon, green infrastructure and active travel measures could become defining features of the new neighbourhood — and a symbol of Wrexham’s leadership as a city.”

At the scrutiny meeting, Rhosnesni Cllr Andy Gallanders (Plaid) asked how the council would resolve the flood-risk issue.

Andrew Harradine, the council’s regeneration lead said the flood-risk is an obstacle but it is not unsurmountable in trying to regenerate the site.

He said: “That doesn’t write-off the site.

“It challenges us to think more creatively about the site and it also created a useful dialogue around how we mitigate these things going forward, bringing new technologies in.

“The approach is that it is a site opportunity but it does have constraints, we’re not hiding those.”

He added: “It’s not necessarily changing the interest in that site.

“It’s still being marketed and we’re still getting enquiries about it and we are also waiting for an updated version of the Tan 15 (flooding Technical Advice Note) from NRW that takes account of a bit more nuance than the original modelling.

“That’s not to say it can be developed in the way we would like, like a previous scheme for that site which was quite extensive and at this moment in time cannot be delivered.

“But we’ve also had previous conversations that if we couldn’t achieve a housing scheme that brought people closer to the city centre what’s the next best option?

“Ultimately a green open space is an option that needs to be considered because that’s something people have been crying out for as well.”

Pen Y Bryn Wrexham. Source – Google Street View

Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid) also touched on the Pen Y Bryn area and its potential to become green space.

He said the city was desperately in need of more green spaces for recreation and leisure, with around 400 extra apartments having been added there in the last five or six years, and only Llwyn Isaf and Bellevue Park currently serving that purpose.

Cllr Jones also called for more support to the “fragile but thriving” small business sector.

Lead member for the economy and regeneration, Gwenfro Cllr Nigel Williams (Ind) who presented the report on the plan said it was currently a “chicken and egg” situation, with lots of investors looking at Wrexham but they want to know what the overall vision is for the city centre.

Earlier in the meeting in light of the pressures on the council’s budget, Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies (Lab) asked whether the £500,000 allocated towards Placemaking would remain in place.

Chairing the meeting, Gwersyllt East Cllr Tina Mannering (Ind) said she had assurances from the council’s leadership the previous week that the money was ringfenced.

The Placemaking plan will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s executive board on Tuesday (July 11).

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