WORK is set to be undertaken to ease parking problems at a World Heritage Site where visitor numbers have quadrupled in the last decade.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Wrexham was first recognised by UNESCO in 2009 when it joined an elite club of 1,000 heritage sites, which includes such structures as Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

Since then, the iconic structure built by canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop has attracted sightseers in their droves, with half a million people estimated to have paid a visit last year alone.

However, community representatives say it has led to issues with parking and traffic for residents living in the surrounding areas.

Most of the problems are said to have arisen at the Trevor Basin, which is right next to the aqueduct.

Wrexham Council is now working with the Canal and River Trust to create a new temporary car park ahead of finding a more permanent solution.

The development was revealed at a meeting of leading politicians held today at Wrexham’s Guildhall.

Cllr Hugh Jones (Cons), lead member for people, said: “I am conscious that in recent years there has been pressure on the local communities and I have met with local members to try and deal with some of those issues, much of which is around transport and car parking.

“I’m pleased to say we have at last begun to make some progress in that area.

“In addition to the physical elements of vehicle movement and car parking, we also need to take account that the local community needs to derive economic benefits and social benefits from having the World Heritage Site in its area.”

During the meeting, executive board members approved a management plan for the site for the next ten years, which will now be submitted to both the UK and Welsh Governments.

Cllr David A Bithell (Ind), lead member for environment, said the heritage area, which also takes in eleven miles of canal from Chirk Bank to Llangollen, had become a victim of its own success, but believed the measures put forward would address the issues raised.

He said: “I know the local member has raised some concerns about traffic issues.

“I think the problem with the World Heritage Site is it’s become really popular over the years, attracting visitors to the country borough, which we obviously do welcome.

“But that in turn does create some localised problems.

“Moving forward, there’s been various meetings and I’m confident that the plan is sustainable moving forward and does work with the local community a little bit more.”

However, Cefn councillor Derek Wright said he believed the pace of progress had been too slow.

The Labour politician said: “At several meetings I’ve attended, I’ve put several things forward involving school children in the World Heritage Site from all over the eleven mile corridor and I can’t seem to get anywhere.

“I would like to see a bit more action when local people come forward with ideas because it seems to take so long.

“It’s like it gets tied up in bureaucracy.”

In response, Cllr Jones pointed out the council only has a budget of around £12,000 to spend on the site.

He said it was hoped a newly established stakeholder group would help to involve the community more with activities.