Council decision on Groves revealed – covenants could be altered to allow football club use of part of the site
The Groves could see a new dual use lease of life, however in part it could be conditional on a new school being built on the Nine Acre field.
The apparently lively debate was held behind closed doors in a “Part 2” secret session of the Executive Board, however the decisions made in it have now been made public.
Although the specific details of which reports and maps are being referred to Wrexham.com understands the first section of the debate related to the issuing of a lease to the Wrexham Supporters Trust to allow the proposed training ground to be created on the open fields on the Groves, and the second separate debate about the use of the Groves building.
The basic public information says the council’s “Chief Officer Housing & Economy be authorised to submit a full planning application”, however that is believed to involve an application to place a new school on the Nine Acre field, rather than any development by the council on the Groves.
It is expected the football club will detail plans for their proposed use of part of the Groves site (two pitches, a training centre plus parking and other changes) which is hoped to be acceptable enough to back up a case for a covenant on the land to be altered or altered for that use.
The decision from the Executive Board authorises a Council Officer to “…apply to the Lands Tribunal to remove or alter the existing covenants in relation to conveyance dated 1906”. The specific map to which section of land that covers is not public, but is thought to relate to just the land to the side of the school buildings, rather than the buildings themselves.
If that challenge is successful Wrexham Supporters Trust would be offered a 99 year full repair and insurance lease at peppercorn rent (the council do not appear to collect the peppercorns!) with certain condition that protects the site from being exploited by property developers preying on football clubs, as has blighted Wrexham’s history.
As the dominos of the plans and proposals around the Nine Acre and that section of the Groves could take a couple of years to fall, the existing agreement to use the Nine Acre field for training is being renewed as part of the Heads of Terms. The football club have recently said they have negotiated and signed a two year lease on the nearby 9 Acre playing field for the ‘interim’ period.
The section of land containing the old listed school buildings is being dealt with separately, if the documents were public we could insert an image of the buildings with a blue rather than red line around them.
The former Groves school building will be ‘disposed’ of to a ‘named party’ if ongoing negotiations are concluded successfully, however the company involved is not known publicly yet.
The Council have said the reason for both decisions is: “To enable the regeneration of the former Groves School Building whilst preserving its listed building status and removing a maintenance liability.”
Previously Wrexham Council have told Wrexham.com that due to the commercial nature of the report it was not possible to disclose the contents, however they made a point of ‘reassuring everyone’ that the report will contains no proposals that involve demolishing the Grade II listed building.
Council Chief Executive Ian Bancroft said: “Clearly what is at the centre of our minds is about making sure that this site is used in a way that’s appropriate. So the use in terms of playing fields, in terms of training, education, in terms of the building is really, really important. I think we’ve been very mindful of that in looking at the users for both areas of the side, that they reflect the nature of the site in terms of what’s important for it.
Years ago Coleg Cambria was interested in the site before shifting plans to their huge redevelopments of other sites, and with various rumours over to the circumstances we delved into a dossier of communications to discover what went on – story here. We understand they are not the interested party in the new expression of interest that is being taken forward.
The move of the football club is of interest to Wrexham Council, as Cllr Phil Wynn, lead member for education, said previously: “Wrexham Council is delighted to be working with Wrexham AFC to provide them with a new training site near the former Groves and freeing up Nine Acre with a view to putting a 21st century school on that site instead.”
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