NEW life could be breathed into a former miners rescue centre through plans to turn it into student accommodation and an art studio.
Previous proposals to turn the historic Miners Rescue Centre in Wrexham into student accommodation, entered by developers JJ Properties Ltd, were turned down by Wrexham Council planning committee members in March last year.
The Grade II listed building on Maesgwyn Road – which dates to 1913 – was used to train miners in rescue techniques and has galleries made to resemble mine shafts.
The new proposals, also submitted by JJ Properties Ltd, would see the creation of student bedrooms, as well as separate spaces for kitchens, dining, communal activities and bathrooms.
They also include plans to bring the former training gallery back to life as an art studio where ‘pods’ can be rented by artists.
Applicants behind the new plans said they would “respect the heritage, meaning and history of the building”.
They said there will be regular exhibitions featuring both UK and international artists and both the drill hall and training galleries will have a nod to the building’s past with semi-permanent display of mining artefacts.
It would see the restoration of some features which have been either damaged or demolished.
The building has been the subject of a long-standing campaign to restore it to its former glory.
It comes after a previous owner of the building Neville Dickens admitted three charges of failing to notify Wrexham Council of intended demolition work at the centre in August 2010.
The former co-owner of Wrexham FC, who also owns a car dealership, was ordered to pay almost £4,000 in fines and costs when he appeared at Wrexham Magistrates Court in April 2011.
The building was most recently used as office space but has been empty and parts of the inside – including the drill hall – were in a bad state of repair.
The updated proposals would see the demolished facade of the training gallery rebuilt, the reconstruction of an original monument on the main facade and the rebuilding of the damaged flat roof on the training gallery.
The previous proposals were turned down on the grounds of over intensification of use, insufficient parking provision and to maintain the integrity of a listed building.
In their design and access statement, the applicants write: “The proposed use and occupancy of the scheme will comprise of several separate rooms of accommodation, separate kitchen and dining areas with space for communal activity and separate bathroom facilities.
“Alterations to the facade of the training gallery will look to replace the existing structure as much as possible, providing a finish that will respect the heritage, meaning and history of the building itself, as this is a vital part and has great meaning within the mining community.”
In relation to the plans to utilise the training gallery for artists, it states: “The end use of the building once the restoration project is completed will be for local artists to make use of the central space in the drill hall.
“The building will, therefore, provide both heritage and arts opportunities to the general public – something that culturally Wrexham is lacking.
“Local artists will be given the opportunity to rent a studio ‘pod’ within the drill hall, with the intent of creating a vibrant working atmosphere and an exciting environment for any visitors.”