PLANS for a major revamp of visitor facilities at a World Heritage Site in Wrexham have been hailed as a “fantastic opportunity” for the area.

The Trevor Basin technical masterplan sets out proposals to improve the experience of people who come to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

The projects revealed by the four organisations responsible for managing the site include the creation of a new car park, welcome centre, treetops walk and camping site.

The Leader:

The basin masterplan

Officials said their aim was to preserve its UNESCO-awarded status, which was awarded in 2009, as well as increasing the amount of time visitors spend there.

They also want to address parking issues, which have caused problems for local communities as annual visitor numbers grew to 363,000 last year 2019.

The plans were discussed at a virtual meeting of Wrexham Council’s ruling executive board held today (Tuesday 10 November).

The local authority’s chief executive Ian Bancroft said it would provide significant economic benefits for the area.

He said: “It is a really exciting and critical time for this master plan because it benefits both local residents and the communities, as well as visitors.

“The thing I try to get across is the excitement and the really amazing thing about the aqueduct is its spectacular position on the river.

“At the moment you can really only view it from the aqueduct so tree top walks, river walks, and a new river bridge, which are all in the master plan, allow you to view the aqueduct from the river, from the riverbanks and from the treetops.

“That really maximises (the time) visitors stay at the site, which is relatively short at the moment, and therefore means they’ll spend more money in the local economy.”

The Leader:

Trevor Basin

The 126-foot-high aqueduct is part of an elite club of 1,000 heritage sites worldwide, which includes Stonehenge and Egypt’s Pyramids.

The iconic structure built by canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop has attracted sightseers in their droves in recent years

However, community representatives said its popularity had also had a negative impact for residents living nearby.

Llangollen rural ward councillor Rondo Roberts said work to mitigate parking and traffic issues had been too slow in the past.

He said: “I’m just a little bit sceptical of the delivery due to the disappointments over the years.

“Since being elected I’ve campaigned quite hard for the major improvements in infrastructure on both sides of the monument due to the amount of visitors coming to Llangollen rural to see the bridge.

“There is a necessity to improve the existing insufficient visitor offer and infrastructure at Trevor Basin to meet the needs and expectations of the visitors.

“But I feel that it’s the local residents that have been let down at this time.”

Cllr Roberts questioned how long the proposals would take to move forward.

Mr Bancroft said the timeframe for the plan’s delivery would depend on funding from a number of sources, but added he was optimistic the first stage would move forward within the next three years.

The overall scheme is scheduled to be implemented over a period of ten years.

Council leader Mark Pritchard said it was important for councillors to back the masterplan.

He said: “I think if we can achieve this, this is ambitious, and it will be a fantastic opportunity to support the World Heritage Site.

“I can always remember when we were fortunate to have the recognition and have a World Heritage Site within Wrexham.

“It’s fantastic, we must support it and I think this master plan will go some way to do that.”

Executive board members unanimously supported the project at the end of the debate.