The debate over the plans for the Groves continues to rumble on, with the local Labour group urging Wrexham Council to consult with the public on the future of the site. However it has since been indicated by one councillor than an announcement could happen as soon as next week.
Disagreements and opinions over the former school have been well-documented since the previous administration’s Executive Board voted in favour of demolishing the building in January 2016 – with the building then famously listed, unlisted and re-listed along with various legal challenges.
There had been plans in 2014 for Coleg Cambria to take over the site and to convert the school into an education facility – however as we investigated here earlier this year the deal fell apart despite Wrexham Council’s best efforts to all but give the site away.
Question marks remain over the future of the site, however this week the Labour group, who are the opposition party in Wrexham Council, have called on the Guildhall’s leadership to launch a public consultation over the future of the site.
Labour leader Cllr Dana Davies said the council’s Conservative-Independent leadership have a chance to change its perception of being ‘insular’ via such a route.
She said: “Now is the time for a positive debate about the future of this important site. The council should be leading the way on this and engaging with the public to create a lasting legacy for one of the town centre’s key sites.
“Wrexham Council’s leadership now has an opportunity to shake off the insular image that’s fast becoming its hallmark and show it is willing and able to work with others for the good of the county borough, because they are going to have to, whether the Groves is developed for education or a skills centre.”
Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, countered the comments over the last few days and also knocked on the head rumoured legal challenges to the covenant on the site that restricts use to solely education use, stating education is the future of the site: “The Education Department has always had aspirations to put one or even two schools on this site.
“That position has not changed and we are currently looking at all the options available to us with a report prepared for consideration in due course.”
Cllr Phil Wynn, Lead Member for Education, indicated on Tuesday that an announcement could be made as soon as next week regarding the long term plan for the site. Speaking at the Town Centre Forum Cllr Wynn said: “I hope to make a statement sooner than later on the future use of the Groves, hopefully that will be in the next week, that is the intention.”
Local MP Ian Lucas also attended the meeting, so we asked him for his reaction to Cllr Wynn’s promise of an imminent announcement rather than any form of consultation.
Mr Lucas said: “I am very pleased that the Council are making some form of proposal concerning the site because it has been well over two years since they withdrew from the arrangement with Coleg Cambria, and that has been wasted time.”
“There has not been a proper public consultation previously about the future of the site, and although we have heard a lot of hot air about school projects on the site they have never reached the form to be sufficiently put together to then be subject to proper consultation.”
“If the Council do have plans for the site I welcome that, we need to recognise it is an important site and listed, in our town centre and we have to find a constructive and positive use for it.”
“I have no idea what the proposal is, I am fascinated that it exists and I am very interested to hear what it is.”
Top Pic: We exclusively reveal what the Groves looked like in 2012.
p35 of a design & access statement in a planning app for the Groves from *December 2014* is REVEALED on the front page of the Leader today 😂 pic.twitter.com/ojF3hEjctw
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) August 2, 2017