Councillors to look at future options for Wrexham Memorial Hall
Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter
Wrexham’s Memorial Hall could be replaced with a new build as the council looks at options for its future.
Next week the council’s executive board will discuss the results of a feasibility study undertaken to gauge the long-term viability of the building.
Any progress towards delivery of this project hinges on the council securing external funding from other sources.
Located off Chester Street in the city centre, the Memorial Hall is part of a collection of civic buildings there which include the magistrates court and Waterworld.
It was built in 1956 specifically to commemorate those who died in the Second World War. It has since become home to several memorials and plaques, both inside and outside the hall building, and is central to Remembrance Day events.
According to the report to be considered by executive board members, like many organisations the Memorial Hall has experienced reduced activities and use during and since the Covid pandemic, which has led to a reduction in income.
It also faces increased competition from more modern venues or from similar buildings which have updated their facilities.
The report says: “The study indicates that even pre-Covid, the Memorial Hall was operating at a loss with income not offsetting expenditure.
“There is a stalwart of hirers who are very loyal to the Memorial Hall and repeatedly return.
“However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new bookings. The cost of hiring the Memorial Hall compared to other facilities is not competitive.”
In February consultants were appointed to provide feasibility and design advice for the building, funded through the Welsh Government’s ‘Transforming Towns’ programme. The purpose of the study was to examine the current status of the Memorial Hall.
The report adds: “The hall has reached a watershed moment and needs to rediscover its purpose that commemorates those that have fallen in war and conflict as a community asset, but also improves its relationship to the immediate civic campus of buildings and uses, and the wider city centre offer.”
According to the executive board report, representatives from the Armed Forces have been kept in the loop through a series of workshops organised with support regiments, community and voluntary organisations.
The feedback at both sessions was extremely positive and all members expressed their support for this project with a new build the preferred option.
It adds: “The Armed Forces representatives in particular were fully supportive of a vision to honour the veteran community through ensuring the existing memorials have a far greater presence than they currently do.
“The options appraisal concludes that a new build is the preferred option to bring about an experience that presents a more cohesive vision centred on a 21st century Memorial Hall that is the cornerstone to Wrexham’s commemoration of those that have fallen in war and conflict, providing a community hub through cultural and social well-being.
“The development of the memorial gardens and piazza surrounding the new building would focus on making the memorial more central and having a far greater presence than it currently does.
“In addition, a new build would contribute to the council’s ‘Net Zero’ targets and provide a more energy efficient and sustainable building.
“Investing in the redevelopment of this building in a prominent site would help raise the standard of the built environment and improve the vibrancy and image of Wrexham in light of its recent city status.”
The feasibility study has recommended a series of categories for the council to look at if it goes forward with the project:
- An Educational programme with the Armed Forces Covenant.
- A cultural programme of events, festivals and activities.
- Opportunities for social and community well-being.
- A space where Wrexham businesses can meet and network, including an improved café area.
- Joint marketing initiatives and campaigns with other city centre attractors that leads to a cohesive message.
- Wrexham Council’s executive board will discuss the report at their meeting on Tuesday (September 19). Some of the debate is likely to be behind closed doors in ‘Part 2’ of the meeting, closed to press and public due to discussion of commercial or sensitive information relating to individuals, finances or the council.
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