Back to square one for Groves building after interested party pulls out
Plans to turn the derelict Groves secondary school into a medical training facility have been scrapped after the company interested have pulled out.
Wrexham Council had signed heads of terms with international healthcare company Apollo to allow it to take on the listed building in February last year, with work progressing until recently towards that aim, before it was put on hold with the pandemic blamed.
The firm already has a site in Crewe, known as the Apollo Buckingham Health Sciences Campus, and it is believed a training facility was planned for the former school site.
We are told last week Wrexham Council had been notified that their interest in the Groves had ceased, and we since asked the council for comment.
A spokesperson for Wrexham Council told us, “The Council has been working with a company who had shown interest in refurbishing the former Groves School site. Unfortunately, because of a number of factors, they have now informed us that they are no longer able to progress the project.”
“Whilst we are disappointed we fully accept their decision. The Council will now need to decide how best to manage the former Groves School building in accordance with our internal processes.”
Further detail has also emerged via an all-councillor email earlier today that we have had sight of, that highlights that ‘engagement’ with Welsh Government and the Welsh Health Service had ‘not been successful’.
As you know, the Council has been working with a company interested in refurbishing the former Groves School site.
This project has been managed in Part 2 because of the commercial sensitivity.
However, the press has become aware of the current situation and I want to brief you quickly before I have a chance to do so formally, rather than you hear this through the media.
This was an exciting project, but the work was stalled during the pandemic because the project relies on overseas travel which has been suspended.
The developers have always insisted that the project also relied on its ability to successfully engage with the Welsh Government and the Welsh Health Service – unfortunately, it has not been successful and has therefore decided to pull out of the project.
The Council will now need to decide how best to manage the former Groves School building in accordance with our internal processes.
The Groves building famously was subject to a listing hokey-cokey, with it being listed / challenged / relisted after court action and a final decision by a Welsh Government Minister (who is now First Minister) after the council expressed a desire to knock it down and put one or two new schools on the site.
The school building site has since been formally deemed “surplus to requirements” for school usage by Wrexham Council due to the costs involved (cited at over £11m), and a hunt for a third party to take it on could restart.
The other section of the Groves site had been earmarked for Wrexham Football Club to take on as a training ground, with heads of terms signed there, however indications under new owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney point towards a larger site being required for their aims.
The use of the Groves site had been mentioned as one reason why the nearby Nine Acre field has been earmarked for plans for a new school, with the future of those plans unclear if the Groves site becomes unused again.
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