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Local Planning Guidance Notes No 19 - Wrexham Town's Character Areas

The guidance forms a material consideration in the determination of all planning applications which could affect the form and appearance of the landscape and townscape in Wrexham town.

The aim of the guidance is:

a) to give developers and local residents a better understanding of the aspects that make Wrexham distinctive;

b) to make it easier for development proposals to be prepared and assessed on a consistent basis;

c) to provide guidance to help to ensure that changes will be positive and appropriate for the locality, leading to the enhancement of the urban landscape.

The town has been divided into a series of character areas, which share similar characteristics in terms of age, form, concept, or use. These are shown on the urban landscape character area map of Wrexham which should be read in conjunction with this guidance note. A series of general design objectives are set out for each area. In addition, a series of opportunity actions are outlined; these are actions that are not directly related to the planning process, but which could be implemented by the activities by the local authority and by others.

These guidelines complement existing design guidance, development control standards, local planning guidance notes and Conservation Area guidance, which are available from the Planning Department.

Whilst the guidance recognises the diversity and value of Wrexham's townscape and aims to protect the best features within each character area, it does not seek to rule out bold, unusual or innovative urban landscape design solutions, where appropriate.

Existing planning guidance

Policies S4 (b), E1 and E2 of the adopted Wrexham Maelor Local Plan aim to ensure that new development does not materially detrimentally affect landscape and townscape character. Policies PS2 and GDP1(b) of the deposit draft Unitary Development Plan have similar aims and will shortly replace the local plan policies.

The Character Areas

The settlement of Wrexham has been divided into 10 distinct character areas, which fall into 5 categories on a functional and chronological basis showing how the town has grown and changed, particularly since the 19th century.

Public consultation

The guidelines for the character areas have been developed following consultation which was carried out during the summer of 2000. Consultees included all of Wrexham Town's Community Councils, Residents' Associations and amenity societies. An exhibition was also displayed in Wrexham Library's foyer to enable members of the public to submit comments.

Wrexham's Urban Landscape Character Areas

Category No Character Areas
1. TOWN CENTRE The town centre, consisting of the oldest part of the town, the present shopping centre, and the area used for 'civic' purposes, lies to the north of the small River Gwenfro valley. The centre of Wrexham is now largely separated from residential areas by a surrounding ring of mixed non-residential land uses but is still the main focus of the town. 1a Historic core
Area surrounding the 14th century Parish Church of St Giles. Much is included in the Town Centre and Grosvenor Road Conservation Areas. Retail centre.
1b Civic centre
Includes council offices, library, pool, police station, law courts. Relatively modern and open character.
2. PRE-WWI RESIDENTIAL Much of the older pre-World War I industrial housing near the town centre was demolished under public health and slum clearance programmes, but significant areas of Victorian and Edwardian housing remain outside the town centre. This housing falls into two categories of contrasting character. 2a Traditional terraced
Dense pattern of narrow streets, red brick terraces, community buildings, on-street parking, few trees, but with some large areas of communal open space.
2b Pre WW1 Suburban
Suburban villas, gardens, mature trees and hedges.
Much is included within the Salisbury Park and Fairy Road Conservation Areas.
3. INTERWAR RESIDENTIAL Interwar housing was largely built to the north and east of the older centre of Wrexham, with a few smaller estates to the south and west. These residential areas represent the mass suburbanisation of industrial Wrexham. They contain two main housing types, but both share characteristics of the Garden City movement with similar architectural styles and landscape features such as front and rear gardens, boundary hedges and often grassed verges with street trees. 3a Interwar suburban houses
1930s "Home Counties" semi-detached houses, often taking the form of ribbon development along arterial roads. Front and rear gardens, hedges, mature trees.
3b Interwar planned suburbs
Planned estates of semi-detached and terraced houses - Garden Village, the Old Acton Park development, Spring Lodge, Huntroyde, E. Avenue.
4. POST WWII RESIDENTIAL Since World War II there has been very extensive housing development on the outskirts of Wrexham, particularly to the north and east, with three main landscape character subdivisions. 4a Early Post WWII Estates
Short terraces of housing separated from main roads, little provision for cars, much public open space.
4b Hightown Flats
Angular concrete medium rise flats.
4c Recent Estates
Extensive recent estates are mainly of detached houses in cul-de-sacs with roads designed for the car.
5. MIXED NON-RESIDENTIAL An area encircling the historic core which traditionally contained a mix of small or moderate scale residential, industrial and commercial development of which small areas remain. 5 Mixed Non-residential
Mainly composed of a variety of new industrial, business, retail, service, and leisure development, together with associated road development and car parks. Buildings often at a large scale which can appear incongruous when close to older buildings.

Design Guidelines for Wrexham Town's Character Areas

No Character Area Strategy for change Design Objectives
1a

HISTORIC CORE

Conservation Restoration Encouragement of diversity
1b

CIVIC CENTRE

Enhancement Encouragement of diversity
  • Retain and strengthen public spaces with pedestrian and cycle links radiating out to surrounding and outlying areas of Wrexham
  • Promote use of high quality design and high quality materials
  • Encourage innovative building design in scale with existing in an appropriate landscape setting
  • Break up extensive areas of car parking with trees and shrubs
  • Follow existing Conservation Area Guidance where relevant
2a

TRADITIONAL TERRACED

Enhancement Encouragement of conformity
  • Retain and enhance all areas of communal open space
  • Conserve building form, density and detailing
  • Resist loss of existing buildings
  • Follow Local Planning Guidance Note No 11 for Terraced Housing in Wrexham for building conservation and restoration
  • New housing to respect existing density, building form, building line, materials and boundary features of adjacent buildings
  • Retain original stone or brick boundary walls and varied copings, discourage replacements by fencing or alternative materials
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Improve pavements and general conditions for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Encourage removal/rationalisation of telegraph poles and unnecessary signage and 'clutter'
  • Improve on-street parking where feasible, discourage parking in front gardens
2b

PRE WORLD WAR 1 SUBURBAN

Conservation Restoration
3a

INTERWAR SUBURBAN

Conservation Restoration Enhancement
  • Conserve and enhance existing highway verges and street trees
  • Require sensitive improvements and alterations to dwellings, which retain and recreate existing architectural detailing
  • Conserve low density of development and resist over-development of plots or insensitive backland development
  • Conserve existing stone or brick boundary walls
  • Conserve hedges
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Enhance existing highway verges and street trees
3b

INTERWAR PLANNED SUBURBS

Conservation Restoration Enhancement Encouragement of conformity
  • Encourage retention and replacement of hedges
  • Encourage retention of original 'Arts and Crafts' design features to buildings and original landscape features such as gates, small lamp posts, mature trees in grass verges
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Look at alternative solutions to parking problems
  • Reinstate lost verges
  • Encourage cost-effective estate-wide maintenance which protects and enhances important features Improve conditions for pedestrians
  • Encourage traffic calming using materials appropriate to location
4a

EARLY POST WORLD WAR 2 ESTATES

Enhancement and/or redevelopment Encouragement of diversity
  • Ensure that landscape/townscape issues are given early consideration in any proposals for enhancement or redevelopment
  • Retain old lamp posts, ensure new ones are at similar scale.
  • Encourage rationalisation/removal of telegraph poles as opportunities arise
  • Retain stone walls, ensuring repointing is done with a mortar mix weaker than the stone. Use hedging rather than fences on top of stone retaining walls
  • Retain hedges (e.g. beech, privet), but if replaced use timber palisade rather than chainlink fencing. Where open plan front gardens are enclosed use hedging (preferable), or stained timber palisade fencing to match existing
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Determine existing and required functions of areas of public open space and develop landscape accordingly
    Clarify public/private boundaries, with planting, walls and fences
  • Where opportunities arise provide high quality detailing needed to give greater richness to streetscape, greater individuality to localities, and to upgrade image of area
  • Improve condition of narrow pavements
  • Create additional car parking areas where needed on edge of grassed open space, with surrounding planting
  • Use opportunities available in extensive areas of public open space to plant larger trees, provide footpaths and cycleways
  • Enhance all areas of open space to give areas more interest and identity
4b

HIGHTOWN FLATS

Enhancement and/or redevelopment Encouragement of diversity
  • Promote alterations which help break up scale of buildings, help integration into surroundings and improve image
  • Replace losses in public open space as often as required
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Enrich landscape with high quality street furniture where appropriate
  • Use colour to break up scale of buildings
  • Encourage planting on balconies
  • Intensify planting in public open space
  • Resurface pedestrian paths with high quality materials
4c

RECENT ESTATES

Enhancement Encouragement of diversity
  • Introduce large trees where possible which will contribute more to future amenity than 'garden' size trees.
  • Encourage use of alternative hedging species to reduce future problems with fast-growing Leyland and Lawson cypresses
  • Provide landscape buffer for new developments on the edge of the countryside and incorporate former countryside features into new development.
  • Provide links into surrounding countryside as well as links into existing urban areas
  • In new developments, consider road layouts which depart from the standard guidelines to encourage innovative housing schemes which are not designed around the car
  • Encourage planting of street trees and boundary hedges in new developments
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Look for opportunities to increase pedestrian and cycle linkage between cul-de-sacs to reduce the dominance and impact of the car
  • Introduce large trees where possible
5 MIXED NON-RESIDENTIAL Enhancement Redevelopment (some) Encouragement of diversity
  • Retain the best of the existing landscape in new developments, including areas of ecological interest (even if not designated), hedgerows, stone walls, watercourses and any other features of historic or other value
  • Keep the use of security fencing to a minimum, particularly palisade fencing, if fencing is necessary use dark green colour or black, with posts of the same colour.
  • Maintain and create links into surrounding housing and the town centre, using opportunities for separate footways/cycleways and also new bus stops/shelters which are attractive, safe and comfortable to use
  • Retain and protect existing mature trees and Integrate large retail developments into townscape by use of recessive colours for walls and roofs, and large scale tree planting. 'Green roofs' may be an option for the future. Break up rooflines to reduce apparent scale (e.g. old 'sawtooth' factory roofs with northfacing lights are energy efficient and fit in with scale of domestic roofs)
  • Avoid large scale cut and fill operations which destroy the original landform and create unnatural cuttings and embankments. Consider split level developments as an alternative
  • Maintain a landscape buffer zone next to watercourses and water bodies
  • Introduce new planting where appropriate
OPPORTUNITY ACTIONS
  • Break up extensive car parking areas with tree and shrub planting and contrasting surfacing
  • Plant replacement trees