Man vows to fight on with campaign for learning centre

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE man heading a scheme to turn a former hotel into an international community and learning centre says the fight to see it go ahead continues despite a major legal setback.

Pol Wong, a Shaolin monk and martial arts expert, has spent the past five years working with the Welsh Government on his dream to transform the disused River Lodge on the banks of the River Dee in Mill Street, Llangollen, into a venue for residential courses in all aspects of martial arts training.

Mr Wong and Powys Fadog, the social enterprise organisation he represents, also plan to provide residential Welsh language courses and use the building as a base for guided historical tours and events.

All this, he says, would create up to 30 jobs.

In 2009, he signed a two-year lease option with the Welsh Government, which owns the property, and has so far spent £90,000 on feasibility studies.

But now the lease option has run out and Mr Wong blames the “disgraceful attitude” of the Welsh Government for leaving his dream in tatters.

He said: “The whole scheme will cost close to £1 million and we have a number of sources of revenue identified but these are dependant on the support of the Assembly Government.

“Over the past few years there has been delay after delay on the part of the government and we have never been given any proper explanation for these.

“In the meantime, the building, which has been empty since 2007, has had a series of burglaries in which extensive damage has been done and copper piping ripped out.”

He added: “Our lease option has now run out and we don’t know what to do next.

“But we will campaign for our scheme to go ahead.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are considering options for the site identified through the appraisal process carried out last October.

“We hope that the future of this prominent site can be resolved quickly.”

See full story in the Leader

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