Wrexham County Borough Council is set to retain the freehold of the former Groves School site for ‘future educational use’, with a bat survey helping a prior deal with Coleg Cambria to be scuppered.
Previously there were plans for Coleg Cambria to purchase and develop the former Groves site, with plans even being drawn up to that effect (pictured below), and local consultation events being held. Back last year the plans were said to be ‘exciting’ and appeared to be progressing with a planning application due to be placed this month which would have enabled the sale.
The report before Councillors next week will see negotiations ‘cease’, with the Council’s own education plans explored. The cancellation of the sale appears to have been helped along due to a delayed ‘bat survey’ that could only occur seasonally ‘due the nature of the field work’, without which it seems the deal could have been done and dusted with the site sold.
Wrexham Council have said this week: “The Council’s pressing need to find land to meet the growing demand for school places means that the Council needs to retain the former Groves School site for its own use. This will allow Wrexham Council to explore how it meets the demand for more school places in the town centre.”
In a report set to go before next week’s Executive Board of Wrexham Council the proposal is in place for the Council to retain the freehold to the land and ‘explore educational uses’.
In a query yesterday regarding a much rumoured covenant on the land to restrict its use for educational purposed Wrexham.com was told such a thing does exist, and thus the educational plans for the site.
Explaining the decision to retain the land, Wrexham Council have said: “Detailed analysis of the Council’s Local Development Plan predicts dramatic changes in the number of people moving into the County Borough over the next 13 years. This means that more school places will be required to satisfy the demand. It is estimated the figure could be between about 20,000 more people by 2028.”
Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard said: “This important site needs to remain within the Council’s portfolio and help us develop our wider aspirations for Wrexham town centre. This will allow the council to strengthen its overall education provision within the county borough as the covenant on the site requires.”
Cllr Pritchard also referred to ‘no other sites in the town centre to build extra provision’ and thus said ‘it would be silly of us to release that site’.
Lead Member for People: Children’s Services & Education, Cllr Michael Williams said: “Wrexham Council’s commitment to education remains a key priority. We have invested heavily in our schools over the years by taking an innovative approach to our school building projects. The forecast population growth in demand is likely to put more pressure on the Council to provide more school places and subsequently more land. We have to be realistic and not only look at current infrastructure but how what we do now will impact on future generations.”
There is no indication on time frames for a new school, nor if it is a primary or secondary facility.
After next weeks meeting it appears likely Wrexham Council’s education department will be asked to explore options for the site based on requirements.
Cllr Pritchard added: “A new school on that site would cost a substantial amount of money but we can’t hide away from the demand for education.”