Wrexham submits planning application for new Kop stand
Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter
Wrexham AFC has submitted its planning application for the new Kop stand at the Racecourse Ground.
The football club has sent its proposals to Wrexham Council in a formal application, which will be determined by the authority at a later date.
A design and access statement submitted with the application to demolish the current vacant and derelict Kop stand and replace it with a new structure, quotes the club’s Hollywood star owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
Speaking about the exciting plans in the statement, they said: “The Club is delighted to submit this planning application to Wrexham County Borough Council (‘WCBC’) for the Kop Development at the Racecourse Ground.
“When we first became custodians of the Club, it was declared that returning the Racecourse Ground to a four-sided stadium was a priority for us.
“Not only will this increase the capacity and accessibility for our loyal fans but it is also the biggest step towards ensuring the Stadium meets the criteria of UEFA’s Category 4 status, which will allow Men’s international football to return to North Wales, with the support of the FA of Wales.
“This planning application follows a great deal of work and consultation with WCBC, our loyal supporters, our neighbours, key stakeholders, and the local community in Wrexham.”
They added: “We are encouraged by the very positive feedback to date for our proposals from the huge number of people who have engaged through social media.
“This feedback only further endorses the excitement we feel for AFL Architect’s design, which include hospitality, community facilities, Club Shop, and exhibition space.
“The Consultation will continue through the determination period to ensure all interested parties can have their voice heard. The Club looks forward to working with WCBC during the determination period of this application which is submitted to be complimentary to the emerging Wrexham Gateway project.”
The proposal for a new Kop stand would see an increase in capacity with the intention of making the stadium UEFA Category 4 compliant.
According to the application, the single tier stand will provide 5,000 general admission seats and 500 hospitality seats, creating a total capacity of 5,500. The ground floor level will provide the concourse as well as toilets and concessions.
This can also be used as an exhibition space for up to 600 attendees on non-matchdays. The upper levels will consist of office, community and hospitality spaces.
The stand will also include the relocated club shop, community classroom and office space, which have been relocated from other stands to help towards the UEFA Category 4 compliance.
The top floor will provide hospitality lounges for both matchday and non-matchday use.
In the plans submitted by AFL Architects on behalf of the club, a large space in front of the new stand will provide a gathering space for both matchday and non-matchday use.
After the recent announcement that safe standing will now be allowed in the Championship and Premier League, the GA seats in the Kop Stand will have an integrated rail to allow both sitting and standing. This will help ‘futureproof’ the stand if the club were to get promoted. The Kop adds to existing capacity of circa 10,500 which is likely to be reduced by 500 seats relating to UEFA facilities, which will total circa 15,500 when all work is complete for UEFA Category 4 compliance.
A section on the design development submitted with the application states: “The next step in the development was to bring in the coal element, by making the upper form that accommodates the offices and hospitality a dark textured form that rises over a local red brick plinth.
“This then leads to the coal form starting from a lower level on the southern side, rising up to a double height space on the northern corner. The coal form at this point cantilevers over the fully-glazed hospitality entrance and club shop.
“The coal form steeply ramps down on the north and south gable ends, to express the seating terrace behind. The roof is folded down at each end, creating a dramatic contrast between the coal form and the lightweight roof.
“As part of the design development, potential future plans for the Wrexham Gateway Masterplan were considered in order to confirm the new stand and its public realm would work well alongside any adjoining development.”
You can view the plans in more detail on the planning section of Wrexham Council’s website.
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“KOP”….what’s that about? What does that mean? Liverpool??
The Kop: the all-standing home stand is named after the Battle of Spion Kop, as many grounds in the UK used to have ends named similarly. Behind the goal, it is known officially as the Crispin Lane End or “Town End”. With a capacity of 5,000, the Spion Kop was the largest all-standing terrace in the English Football League. It is currently decommissioned and is used for advertising purposes.