Future development around the World Heritage Site at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Solutia UK Ltd’s former industrial site at Trevor, in North Wales, comes under the spotlight with the launch of a new public consultation.
Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust charity in Wales, Wrexham County Borough Council and Solutia UK Ltd are working with a range of stakeholders to identify opportunities for tourism and economic regeneration at Trevor Basin, next to the aqueduct, and nearby communities of Trevor, Froncysyllte, Acrefair, and Cefn Mawr.
While we are responsible for looking after Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal, Solutia UK Limited owns 59 hectares (147 acres) of land within the masterplan study area. This includes former manufacturing, warehousing and water treatment sites, plus 25 hectares (61 acres) of fields and woodlands adjacent to the World Heritage Site and along the River Dee.
Global design consultancy Arcadis has been appointed to lead on the proposals and carry out a wide-ranging public consultation with residents, businesses and all interested groups and organisations. They have engaged commercial estate agents Legat Owen to provide valuation advice and market intelligence.
The study area boasts a challenging mix of land uses from brownfield sites left vacant after the closure of chemical and brick manufacturing industries to an internationally-important canal tourist destination. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site, inscribed in 2009, currently attracts 250,000-300,000 visitors a year and has potential to bring more jobs and economic prosperity to the area.
The first stakeholder meeting was held at Trevor in June, at which suggestions for a new visitor centre and canal basin next to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a treetop pathway, improved cycling and walking routes, nature walks, leisure activites such as glamping, and extra car and coach parking were raised.
There are plans to address the parking issue immediately with a proposal to create an extra temporary car park while the masterplan is developed. This would help to alleviate existing problems and a planning application will be submitted shortly.
Stuart Mills, property director with the Canal & River Trust, said: "Our World Heritage Site is on an equal international footing with the Pyramids and Stonehenge. People travel from all over the world to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal, and we want to ensure that they have a world class experience when they get here. We are delighted to be working with our partners from Solutia UK Ltd and Wrexham County Borough Council, and our consultants Arcadis to develop a strategic masterplan for this area and we are interested to hear the views of local people."
Cllr Hugh Jones, Chair of the World Heritage Site Board and Wrexham County Borough Council’s Lead Member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said: "This is a great opportunity for local communities and residents to have a positive input into the regeneration opportunities being looked at for land surrounding the World Heritage Site to help further boost the tourism economy of Wrexham".
Steve Westhead, from Solutia UK Limited, added: "As one of the three landowners within the masterplan boundary area, we are pleased to cooperate with the Canal & River Trust and Wrexham County Borough Council in this important project. We are confident that the project’s consultants, Arcadis, will explore options to develop the World Heritage Site and adjacent land and also support the local community. Stakeholder engagement is clearly an important part of that process, and one that Arcadis’s experience can help us with."
The draft masterplan is currently subject to an extensive consultation process and is due to be completed in November 2017.
The partnership is keen to consult and work collaboratively with the local community and relevant groups and organisations to identify quick, short-term gains and longer-term opportunities for economic growth and development.
A full public consultation will take place in a few months to present options and invite further feedback.