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Wrexham Council to commission Rhosddu housing feasibility study

The Cunliffe Centre as seen beyond the site of where the former vicarage has been demolished in Rhosddu (pic: Google Street View)

CALLS have been made for Rhosddu to get its’ own community centre as the council plots social housing for land in the Wrexham suburb.

Wrexham Council’s executive board has backed a proposal to commission a feasibility study to identify whether the authority can build its own homes on the site of the old vicarage in Rhosddu, also known as Centre 67.

The building was controversially flattened in November almost three years after an executive board decision to demolish it, and there are also plans to wind down day care activities at the neighbouring Cunliffe Centre which is another building nearing the end of its life.

This prompted Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid), the ward member, to ask about plans for a replacement Cunliffe Centre or whether Rhosddu could get a community centre as part of the redevelopment.

Cllr Marc Jones

Cllr Jones said: “Rhosddu community councillors would welcome the opportunity to be consulted on an idea to integrate a new community facility into the masterplan going forward.

“We don’t currently have a community centre in Rhosddu and if plans are going forward they should also ensure a superior replacement for the Cunliffe Centre which is part of this current site, and there’s nothing in this report to indicate where or what would happen to the facilities available at the Cunliffe Centre.”

Lead member for housing, Johnstown and Pant Cllr David A Bithell (Ind) said the community centre proposal would require an alternative source of funding as the £9m earmarked for the old vicarage site can only be used for social housing.

He added that he hoped the feasibility study will be completed by the end of the summer.

With reference to the community centre idea, chief officer for housing Julie Francis said the feasibility study will look at all aspects of the land to “look at what can be achieved on it”.

Cllr Jones also questioned what plans the council had for the land if it was found not to be suitable for social housing.

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He asked: “Can someone give me assurance that this site will not be sold off to the highest bidder, that it will include either 100 per cent social housing or social housing plus a Cunliffe Centre replacement?”

Council leader and lead member for finance, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard said that selling to a private developer has never been the executive board’s plan for the site.

“There’s never been any intention to sell the site”, he said.

“I don’t know where you’ve got that from. Again things are said in meetings that set the hares racing.

“We’ve never had a discussion or conversation. Executive board members have always fully supported social housing on this site so I don’t know where that has come from.

“I just want to confirm we’re committed, all the executive board members and the lead member, to put social housing on this site. We’ve said it many times.”

Cllr Graham Rogers asked about the old printworks in Rhosddu and whether that could be included in the feasibility study.

Officer Julie Francis said that property was privately owned, and that the owner is in discussions with the council about his own plans for it.

The council’s executive board voted to go ahead with the feasibility study.