Council win legal battle to proceed with auction of Ebenezer Chapel
Wrexham Council are free to recommence the auction of the Ebenezer Chapel site after they successfully defended a legal challenge from a community group trying to block a sale.
The building, located in Cefn Mawr, received a significant injection of grant funding in 2008, which saw it converted into a community centre with office and gallery spaces and a café bar.
However, the project encountered financial difficulties because of a lack of visitors and the former Baptist chapel site closed its doors five years later.
The property was set to be auctioned off in 2019 by Wrexham Council amid interest from the Plas Kynaston Canal Group, which had ambitious plans to link it to a new cable car system.
However, the auction was pulled pending that interest – before returning to the auction block where no sale completed. The building was set to be on auction last month however that was thwarted at the last minute due to a legal challenge by a community group, with an interim injunction granted preventing the sale.
The full hearing took place yesterday, finding in favour of Wrexham Council, meaning the auction of the property can now take place if they decide to revisit that route.
Wrexham Council told us, “Permission for the application by Mr Metcalfe for Judicial Review was refused on grounds that the application was out of time.”
“The judge did consider the merits of the application and on each point found there was no merit in the arguments put forward by Mr Metcalfe if it have been made on time”.
A statement by Dave Metcalfe from the community group said, “I am sorry to have to report to you that the Judge found in favour of WCBC at todays hearing. Therefore, WCBC is now free to put the Ebenezer back to auction if they choose. I am hoping and the Judge did suggest that accepting the lease proposal for the Ebenezer based on what was offered to the Cefn Community Council would be best, but with ourselves rather than CCC. This would secure the building for our community rather than having to go to auction, however that decision is with WCBC and they are free to auction the Ebenezer off without consultation of our community if they so choose.”
The group have opened the door for possible negotiation, adding, “Although we have lost todays battle and Iona and I will have to pay costs tomorrow, we have not lost the war. If we had not proceeded as we have, the Ebenezer would most likely have been sold off for HMO or some other equally useless private business activity. The point being, we still have opportunity to secure the building for our community, and are currently hoping WCBC will accept the proposed lease, where we will be responsible for the building.”
The full written judgement is due to emerge at a later date.
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