PLANS for the first phase of works at a major heritage project in Brymbo have been revealed.
A planning application was received by Wrexham Council on August 1 requesting permission for the conversion of a former machine shop to an exhibition area, as well as for business and general industrial use, at the former Brymbo Steelworks site in Blast Road.
Other proposed works as part of the application include the construction of new floor level, internal and external alterations, access and parking arrangements.
A design and access statement submitted with the application states: “The building is currently underused and forms the base for Brymbo Heritage Group activities.
“It is also used as an exhibition space and some of the fossils that have been excavated are on display. The building also acts as a general storage area.
“The proposal is to bring the machine shop back into sustainable use, whilst taking care to preserve its industrial past and character.
“It will become the visitor welcome and interpretation centre which includes a reception point and heritage exhibition.
“The building will also support a heritage skills learning facility and workshop, flexible events/activities space, and provide a number of rentable office/workshop spaces.
“The upper level is the learning space with offices above and the provision of new toilets. This is on the western end of the building.
“A full height partition will separate the learning and office space from the visitor space.
“The proposal is to retain and restore as much of the existing character as possible. New openings will be formed within the existing locations where possible.
“The Brymbo Heritage Area, which is located at the north-western edge of the steelworks site, has always been viewed as a key component of the wider masterplan developed by land owners Brymbo Developments Ltd (BDL), having potential to attract higher value businesses and housing, and provide a stimulus for investment in high quality public realm and facilities.
“The workshop will be well equipped for experiencing and learning heritage and mechanical skills.
“This will provide a good base for the local area to share skills.”
The document adds the development will include a car park with 14 spaces.
Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers told the Leader: “We had a liaison committee meeting last week attended by community council representatives, Brymbo Heritage Group and Wrexham Council – basically we discussed the overall vision for the heritage area and this is the first phase.
“We had a really good, positive meeting and there was full support from everyone for the principles the group is working to and they are keen to see the old building brought back into use.
“It is a big step forward for the community, this is the first step in realising the overall vision.
“From the community’s point of view, it addresses an issue for many residents in that there were concerns that the building on site was deteriorating.
“Residents have been frustrated for some time with the fact the building has been an eyesore with smashed windows. I am sure they will be delighted to see it being brought back into use. It will also being employment opportunities at the site.”
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “This is another major step forward.
“As a long-term supporter of this fantastic project, it’s been brilliant to watch it progress over the years thanks to the vision, enthusiasm and tireless energy of the volunteers.
“I’m proud that the Welsh Labour Government has backed Brymbo Heritage Group financially and I look forward to these plans clearing this final hurdle and becoming a reality and a lasting legacy for our area.”
The Brymbo Heritage Project plans to gradually redevelop history and heritage assets in Brymbo to take advantage of the village’s rich industrial past.
The project’s goals include the restoration and reuse of the former Brymbo Iron and Steelworks site and the exploration and conservation of the nearby fossil forest, a major site of geological interest with fossils dating back more than 300 million years.
In February, Wrexham Council’s executive board agreed to support the trust’s proposals for the developments and also committed the support of council officers to the planned developments.
Shortly after gaining council support, the project attracted nearly £2 million in funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Create Your Space programme, allowing the project to kick-start its Roots to Shoots initiative, which looks at ways of making use of additional former industrial open spaces in and around the village, as well as securing three new jobs, with two development officers and a finance officer.