PLANS for a new retail and leisure hub in Wrexham are still expected to go ahead despite delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Permission for the Chapter Court scheme was granted in June 2020 to redevelop a group of shops near Queen’s Square in the town centre.
The proposals would result in the creation of a mixture of stores and restaurants at ground floor level, with offices and bars above them.
Further plans were approved last April to open eight of the units facing onto Queen Street, Queen’s Square and Hope Street, including a mixture of shops, restaurants and cafes.
It has taken longer than expected for the project to move forward, which developers TBE (Southern) Limited are said to have blamed on the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
However, council officials revealed yesterday (Wednesday, June 15) that work could begin by the end of this year.
It came after questions were raised regarding the plans at a meeting of Wrexham Council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee.
Rebeccah Lowry, the local authority’s regeneration service manager, said:
“The proposed Chapter Court scheme and the properties it involves are under private ownership.
“We’ve been in touch with the agents just this week and they have indicated that they would be on site at the end of this year.
“In terms of any barriers, I’m aware that as with any development, the cost of materials and labour is causing problems.
“They do have some financial challenges, but they have committed in just the last week that they will start this year.”
The update was provided as councillors discussed a report which shows just under a fifth of shops in the town centre are currently empty.
The situation has improved since January last year when the proportion of vacant units stood at around 30 per cent.
Ms Lowry said some properties in the Queen Street area were deliberately being kept aside to prepare for the creation of the Chapter Court development.
A query was also raised during the meeting by Cllr John McCusker over when the town’s new tourist information centre would be open in full.
Work on relocating the visitor centre from Lambpit Street to a revamped unit on Chester Street was completed last year, but its opening times have been limited.
Andrew Harradine, the council’s regeneration lead, said:
“Physically, the construction project is all finished, but we’re still working between the different staffing teams to bring that service back up to a face-to-face service.
“It does open for a short number of hours per day, and it has been operating as a virtual service.
“We are now in a position where there are events, the tourism offer is open, and people are in the town centre, so we want to get that centre staffed and up and running in its full capacity.”