THE regeneration of a deserted shopping centre is set to take a major step forward after plans were entered for more than 50 new apartments.

Last year Manchester-based MCR Property announced it had bought the largely vacant Henblas Square in Wrexham town centre, which used to be home to several major retailers including TJ Hughes and BHS, The Entertainer and Evans clothing.

Now the firm has submitted proposals to turn offices on the first floor of the multi-million pound development into 55 apartments with all but one shop currently sitting vacant.

The site forms a key part of Wrexham Council's Town Centre Masterplan and the company said it was working closely with the local authority to restore it to its former glory.

In a planning statement, the company said: "The property comprises of 10 ground floor retail units, two of which are substantial in size.

The Leader:

Henblas Square back in 2016 with BHS unit

"All aside from one of the retail units are now vacant.

"The application proposal seeks to bring the first floor of the building back into active use for residential purposes, whilst retaining the ground floor retail units.

"The residential use would align with one of the objectives of the Wrexham Town Centre Masterplan, which seeks to increase town centre living, whilst the retention of the ground floor use will ensure no conflicts with the relevant town centre policies in the Unitary Development Plan."

The proposals do not contain any plans for car parking for residents, but the company said it was not deemed necessary because of the location.

They are also looking to attract new businesses to the shopping units, including the former BHS store, which closed in August 2016 after the national high street chain fell into administration.

Wrexham Council's lead member for economy described the development as 'good news' for the town.

Cllr Terry Evans said: "Retail has had a hammering and people going online so anything that we can do to help developers make it an attractive place to shop and live, we will do that.

"All that area is being revamped, we've just put in for a grant for doing up the conservation area and the key is keeping good shops in that area.

"We're just waiting for some good news to be announced with Techniquest and the BHS shop.

"Once those two major ones are announced I think they others will just follow."

A similar application was entered in April to convert the first and second floor of a row of shops in King Street into 52 flats, along with the refurbishments of the ground floor retail units.

In setting out the company’s vision for Henblas Square in July 2017, an MCR Property spokesman said: “The acquisition of Henblas Square is an exciting addition to our ever-expanding retail portfolio.

“As a business, we have a proven track record of reinvigorating distressed assets and working in conjunction with Wrexham Council, we are confident we can provide a mixed-use offering to the area in keeping with the overall Town Centre Masterplan.”