Assembly gives green light to dragon – now to raise the cash

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE scheme to build a massive Dragon Tower near Chirk has cleared its final planning hurdle.

And the man behind the ambitious project, Erbistock art dealer Simon Wingett, says he is now concentrating on raising the £9 million he needs to make his dream a reality.

His aim is to build the 200ft tall structure with a cultural centre and landscaped gardens on land off the A5 close to the English/Welsh border.

He says it will create nearly 200 jobs and attract an extra £3.5million a year into Wrexham.

Although it was given the go-ahead by Wrexham’s planning committee early last month, the Welsh Assembly Government had 21 days in which to call it in for further consideration because it is a major departure from normal planning policy.

But yesterday Mr Wingett said: “I had been holding my breath for 21 days in case the Assembly government wanted to call it in but I have just heard they do not, so now I can concentrate on raising the necessary finance.

“I admit this won’t be easy in the current financial climate. With the terrible things going on in the Middle East and Japan the banks have taken a hit and will be wanting to draw in their horns. But I’ll be looking outside the box for financing.

“I’m prepared to talk to anyone who is interested in backing this project, even if it is someone from abroad.”

He added: “We are now looking at the exact cost of the scheme.

“The latest estimate is about £9 million but if we can make it any less than that we will do it.

“I’d like to see building work start in June and have the project being finished in time for the London Olympics in 2012 so Wales has something to celebrate too,

“This would be a unique opportunity for Wales to attract some of the visitors who will be here for the Olympics and make hay while the sun shines.

“This is no small plan – the dragon at 216ft tall will be higher than Nelson’s Column in London and just 60ft lower than the Statue of Liberty in New York.”

Mr Wingett has spent years putting together the Waking the Dragon scheme in memory of his late father, estate agent Frank Wingett, who died from cancer.

He claims it will bring in £1 million a year for research into the disease.

See full story in the Leader

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