Meeting pivotal to dragon tower plan

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A CRUNCH meeting will decide whether millions of pounds can be earmarked to make a start on the huge ‘dragon tower’ planned for Chirk.

Erbistock art dealer Simon Wingett is currently looking for financial backers to help him to achieve his dream of building the 200ft tall structure, housing a cultural centre and with landscaped gardens, on land off the A5.

He has already lined up a £500,000 loan from the Visit Wales tourist authority towards the £9 million total cost of the project.

And on Monday a meeting is to be held in Cardiff at which officials will discuss the application he has made to the JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) Fund. This uses European Union money to support urban development and regeneration schemes.

Although he will not reveal the actual sum, Mr Wingett says he has applied for “millions of pounds” from the fund.

And he says that if the bid proves successful, it is feasible a start could be made on the project.

He said: “It will get us a long way down the road towards making a start – if not the whole way.

“After the meeting on Monday, I am sure it will not be too long before I hear whether my bid has been successful.

“Once we have the money secure, it will then be easier to attract other investors to the project.”

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.

He says the project would create nearly 200 jobs and attract an extra £3.5million a year into Wrexham.

Mr Wingett also believes it would bring in £1 million a year for research into cancer.

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 shopping area, an education/gallery area, a restaurant and a multi-use area.

See full story in the Leader

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