An ‘independent peer review’ which could see the former Groves School made into a listed building has been requested.
Yesterday Wrexham.com reported that further attempts for Wrexham Council to reconsider their decision to demolish the school, are to be made by opposition councillors at this afternoon’s Full Council Meeting.
However the Groves tale has taken another turn just hours ahead of today’s meeting, with Wrexham.com seeing a letter addressed to Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths stating that an ‘independent peer review’ has been requested for the building.
The letter, which was sent by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates notes that he is ‘minded to list Grove Park School’ however the ‘listing of twentieth century buildings where there are greater levels of survival is not straightforward’.
It follows a request made to CADW in February 2016 to list the former girls school.
The Minister continues onto say: “I have therefore requested an independent peer review of the listing assessment, which will be completed by mid-April and a final decision will be taken after this decision has been made available.
“Although the Historic Environment Bill has just received its Royal Assent, the provision relating to interim protection following a decision by the Welsh Ministers that they are minded to list a building, will not come into force until further secondary legislation has been prepared.”
In January Wrexham.com reported that demolition of the former school could begin in a few weeks time, with the process expected to be completed by August 2016.
However the Minister continues onto say that he hopes ‘Wrexham Council will await the final listing decision before making any decision to demolish the school’.
Welcoming the developments, Lesley Griffiths AM said: “I would like to thank the Minister for listening to my constituents concerns and for pursuing this matter.”
“Many constituents have contacted me about this decision and Wrexham Council’s controversial handling of this process has been widely criticised. From the very beginning I have called for greater clarity and consultation regarding the hurried nature of Wrexham Council’s actions.”
“The Minister’s latest letter clearly outlines support for my call for an independent peer review to take place on the building, and Wrexham Council should await the final listing decision before demolishing the school.”
“I believe it is perfectly reasonable to be open and transparent about the procedures. I am hopeful the Council will now listen to the many concerns that have been raised and a thorough consultation can take place in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the town.”
The Groves is set to be debated on by councillors at the Full Council Meeting at 4pm. For those who can’t attend the meeting, it will be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.
The Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard, has commented saying: “I would like to thank CADW and Council officers for all their hard work and effort to date.
“Looking forward I will be inviting the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, AM, to enter into talks with us as to how Welsh Government can assist us financially to ensure this building will be secured and safeguarded into the future, should English Heritage agree with his views as to listing this building.”