Rory Sheehan, local democracy journalist
Wrexham AFC have submitted their planning application for the new Kop stand at the Racecourse Ground.
The football club have sent their proposals to Wrexham Council in a formal request, 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, cites the club’s Hollywood star owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
Speaking of the exciting plans in the statement, they said: “The club are delighted to submit this planning application to Wrexham County Borough Council (‘WCBC’) for the development of Kop at the racecourse.
“When we became the Club’s first goalkeepers, it was said that returning the racecourse to a four-sided stadium was a priority for us.
“Not only will this increase capacity and accessibility for our loyal supporters, but it is also the biggest step in ensuring the stadium meets the criteria for UEFA Category 4 status, which will enable men’s international football to return to North Wales, with the support of the FA of Wales.
“This planning request follows extensive work and consultation with WCBC, our loyal supporters, our neighbours, key stakeholders and the local Wrexham community.”
They added: “We are encouraged by the very positive feedback to date on our proposals from the large number of people who have engaged via social media.
“These comments only add to the enthusiasm we feel for AFL Architect’s design, which includes hospitality, community facilities, club shop and exhibition space.
“Consultation will continue throughout the determination period to ensure that all interested parties have a voice. The Club looks forward to working with WCBC during the determination period of this application which is being submitted to complement the emerging Wrexham Gateway project.
The proposal for a new Kop stand would see an increase in capacity with the aim of making the stadium UEFA Category 4 compliant.
Depending on the application, the single-tier grandstand will offer 5,000 general admission seats and 500 hospitality seats, creating a total capacity of 5,500 seats. The ground floor level will provide the lobby as well as restrooms and concessions.
This can also be used as an exhibition space for up to 600 participants on non-match days. Upper levels will include office, community and hospitality spaces.
The stand will also include the relocated club shop, community classroom and offices, which have been moved from other stands to help with UEFA Category 4 compliance.
The top floor will provide hospitality lounges for match days and non-match days.
In plans submitted by AFL Architects on behalf of the club, a large area in front of the new stand will provide a gathering space for use on matchdays and non-matchdays.
Following the recent announcement that safe standing will now be permitted in the Championship and Premier League, GA Kop Stand seats will have an integrated rail to allow both sitting and standing. This will help ‘future-proof’ the stand should the club be promoted. The Kop adds to the existing capacity of around 10,500 seats which is expected to be reduced by 500 seats linked to UEFA facilities, which will total around 15,500 when all works are completed for UEFA Category 4 compliance. ‘.
A section on design development submitted with the application states: “The next stage of development was to incorporate the element of charcoal, making the upper form that accommodates the offices and hospitality a dark textured form that rises on a local red brick plinth. .
“This then leads to the coal form from a lower level on the south side, rising to a double height space on the north corner. The coal forms at this point in a cantilever above the fully glazed reception entrance and club shop.
“The coal form slopes steeply down the north and south gables, to express the seating terrace behind. The roof is folded back at each end, creating a stark 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 to confirm the new stand and its public realm would work well alongside any adjacent development.”
You can view the plans in more detail in the planning section of the Wrexham Council website.
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