Decision day arrives for £9m dragon tower scheme

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A FINAL decision is due to be made on an ambitious plan to build a massive dragon tower on the border between Wales and England.

The plan to build the 200ft tall structure with a cultural centre and landscaped gardens, on land off the A5 at Chirk, which could create nearly 200 jobs and attract an extra £3.5million a year into Wrexham, will be considered by Wrexham’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Planning officers have recommended that councillors grant the application made by Erbistock arts dealer Simon Wingett.

Mr Wingett has spent years putting together the £9 million project – known as Waking the Dragon – in memory of his late father, estate agent Frank Wingett, who died from cancer.

Mr Wingett, who has launched a public appeal to raise the building costs, claims it will bring in £1 million a year for research into the disease.

According to a report by chief planning officer Lawrence Isted, private consultants say that based on visitor numbers of 200,000 a year, an estimated 196 jobs could initially be created in the county borough and direct visitor spend would benefit the Wrexham area by £3.5 million a year.

The plan includes a 41.5 metre tower topped by a red Welsh dragon, itself 23.5 metres high and with a wingspan of 57 metres.

At the foot of the tower would be a two-storey curved visitor centre with a gross floor space of 2,150 square metres.

Mainly glass sided, this would include a reception area, café and kitchen, a retail area, an education/gallery area, a restaurant and a multi-use area.

Staff and visitor welfare facilities would be located in this building.

There would also be parking for 221 cars, buses and bycles along with landscaping.

Recommending the plan for approval, Mr Isted said: “I consider it represents a unique and unprecented proposal.

“Even with the lowest scenario presented by 125,000 visitors, it has the potential to create significant econimic and wider impacts which would be of benefit to Wrexham, North Wales and Wales as a whole and at no public cost.”

The scheme was originally due to be considered by the committee on December 6 but was put back for further consideration after officers raised styling concerns.

But Mr Wingett said: “These issues have now been resolved and I am elated that the plan has been recommended for approval.

“This is going to change the face of Wrexham and Wales and there will be nothing else like it in the world.”

See full story in the Leader

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