The site of the former Groves High School will gain a ‘new lease of life’ as the home of a new school if plans by Wrexham County Borough Council are approved.
Next week members of the council’s Executive Board will meet to discuss the future of the former Groves School, which is currently in what the council described as a ‘dilapidated state’.
It is recommended that the former school building be demolished and the ground cleared for a new school.
Wrexham Council say: “The council faces rising demand for school places as the population of the county borough grows. The Welsh Government forecasts that the population of the County Borough will increase from 135,070 to 155,306 by 2028, which will put pressure on existing school spaces.
“Refurbishment or redevelopment of the former school would cost more than £5m, meaning creating a new, fit-for-purpose school on the site is the better option.
“The development will follow a series of investments made in to education by Wrexham Council, which recently announced construction of new schools at Hafod y Wern and Gwenfro, both in Caia Park.”
Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Governance, said: “While it has become increasingly clear that the old building is no longer fit for purpose, we are keen to ensure that the site of the school will continue to play a significant role in the future of education in Wrexham – particularly as we see rising demand for education provision in the town centre.
“We are very pleased that we will be able to maintain education on this site and continue to invest in the education of the children and young people of Wrexham.”
Mr Pritchard said he hoped there would be an ‘iconic building’ on the corner site, and that as the building had been empty for 12 years ‘it was time to do something with it’.
Mr Pritchard explained there are several proposals on the table for what the final plans will look like, with one or even two schools being sited there depending on demand. No decisions have been made as of yet, nor on the scale of the numbers of pupils who could be taught there.
In the report to Councillors it notes ongoing problems with the building as it stands: “The former girls’ school building continues to deteriorate following vandalism, despite enhanced physical security and mobile patrols. The building has been secured with Sitex.
However the site continues to encounter issues with antisocial behaviour and homeless people sleeping rough. This necessitates the police and the Council’s security team being called out on a regular basis. Significant quantities of rubbish and items such as sharps are being left behind which require clearing. The problems are becoming a serious issue for adjoining residents.”
“The concern over the potential for trespassers to disturb asbestos is clearly shown by the presence of signage around the building warning of the dangers. Whilst the presence of asbestos in itself is not a danger unless it is disturbed, removal is recommended, whether or not the building is to be retained.”
One option considered was to maintain the frontage or facade of the building, however the report notes: “The estimated cost of demolition of the building with retention of the Chester Road/Powell Road façade is £418k, (and includes demolition, asbestos removal, removal of services and support for the façade). Annual security costs could increase as the façade will continue to attract unwanted attention and could become a dangerous structure if it remains in place for a lengthy period. The ongoing costs for security, grounds maintenance and scaffolding is estimated to be £160k per year.”
Part of the site had already been cleared with the older block still left intact. Wrexham.com reported in November on how some bats have helped the citizens of Wrexham get the new proposed school, with the site previously being earmarked to be sold off to Coleg Cambria.
That area of town will also see another demolition, at some point later this year, with the police station set to be ripped apart and the site cleared – details here.