A £60m RETAIL and leisure development described as the 'jewel in the crown of Wrexham' is set to revolutionise the town centre.
Plans for a major department store, a bowling alley, café bars, apartments and restaurants on Wrexham's Eagles Meadow - the former Asda site - were unveiled last week.
The landmark scheme, which is expected to bring hundreds of jobs into the area, is set to be completed by spring 2007.
The development will bring 225,000sq ft of retail floor space, 85,000sq ft of which will be given to a flagship department store - negotiations are said to be under way with Debenhams.
In addition, 50 apartments will be built and an underground car park will provide 1,000 parking spaces for the town.
And it is proposed that the inner ring road, including what is known locally as the Asda fly-over, will be re-routed to improve traffic flow and accessibility.
Developers Wilson Bowden and architects Bernard Engle said major retailers were very keen to bring their businesses to Wrexham.
Wrexham Council strategic director Paul Roberts said the council had received a number of excellent presentations offering proposals to change the face of Wrexham town centre but the plan put forward by Wilson Bowden and Bernard Engle stood out from the rest.
He said: 'The ideas, designs and vision put forward by Wilson Bowden and the architect Bernard Engle were outstanding. Members found their proposals innovative and fresh, a development that will transform this part of town and underpin the ongoing regeneration in Wrexham.
'This is a huge leap forward for Wrexham in terms of retail and architectural development.
'This isn't just evolution, it's revolution.' The design for the development was inspired by Wrexham's focal building, St Giles Church.
Chris Wieszczycki, of Bernard Engle Architects, said: 'We looked a lot into Wrexham's history before we came up with this design. Our concept recognises the prominence of St Giles parish church, making its tower the focal point of our main pedestrian promenade.'
Mr Wieszczycki added: 'Wrexham needs to build on its attractive market town character. That is why our scheme is designed around a series of dynamic, new urban spaces which are fully integrated within an existing network of streets and squares.
'The new distinctive buildings will provide a landmark gateway into the town centre.
'The proposals are an extension of the town centre, not a remodelling. This development will blend seamlessly with what is there. It will be the jewel in the crown of Wrexham.'
Wrexham councillors will be asked to approve the plans after consultation and it is hoped that construction will begin in September next year.
The concept design, which includes pedestrian walkways and plazas, aims to provide a family focus, with bars and cafés staying open after shops have shut.
Nick Richardson, managing director of Wilson Bowden Developments said: 'We are delighted to have been selected by Wrexham County Borough Council to deliver our vision for Eagles Meadow. We believe we can help Wrexham build on recent successes and further improve the town as a recreational and retail destination.
'We also see significant potential to provide city living apartments and we are excited to be working alongside Wrexham County Borough Council on this project.'
Council chief executive Isobel Garner said: 'We are delighted that quality retail and leisure operations have shown confidence in the potential of Wrexham. This is another piece in the jigsaw for the transformation of Wrexham town centre and is nothing more than our residents and visitors deserve.
'Wrexham is already a highly successful retail and commercial centre and this latest proposal can only enhance our ranking in national terms.' Chris Wieszczycki said a public consultation would take place to put over their ideas. What do you think this development will mean for the future of Wrexham? Contact the Mail with your views.