Stop Wrexham school demolition, MP urges council leader

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

PLANS to demolish a secondary school which has stood vacant for more than a decade have been branded “irrational”.

Town MP Ian Lucas has written to Wrexham Council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard ahead of today’s executive board meeting, where plans to knock down the old Groves school in Powell Road are expected to be ratified.

Mr Lucas raised concerns about the lack of clear plans for the site and called for a public consultation on its future.

In a letter to Cllr Pritchard, Mr Lucas said: “The Groves is one of Wrexham’s best known sites and its future has been a problem for many years. Closure of the school on site 12 years ago was part of a largely unsuccessful council-led secondary school reorganisation.

“Long-term issues remain with the secondary sector in the town with excess places in town centre schools. In this context, the bombshell suggestion that, on four days’ notice, without any public consultation whatsoever, the executive board is to consider a motion to demolish the building, is bizarre.

“For a start, there is no clear proposal as to what is to happen to the site. Is it to be used for a primary school or a secondary school?

“Who will pay for future development of the site? What discussion of the site has taken place with the other major education providers in the town, Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr?

“The decision to demolish the building without a proposal in place of how to use the site is irrational. Why must this decision be made now rather than carrying out a proper public consultation on the issue first? What is the hurry?

“It seems the council does not envisage work on the site beginning until at least 2019.

“Wrexham Council must start recognising that it is not the only body in the town with the town’s future at heart. It must start engaging with everyone else in the town before it makes irreversible decisions.

“I wrote to you last week urging more consultation on the controversial arts hub issue. I then hear of this, like everyone else, completely out of the blue.

“Can I urge the executive board to stop, to consider this proposal for demolition only as part of a proper plan for education in the town and to consult all interested parties when there is a properly formulated plan.

“I must say that if the executive board passes this motion, I think it may open itself up to legal action, such is the irrationality of the proposal.”

More than 700 people have signed a petition asking the board to pull back from plans to knock the school down.

The site, which is the subject of a covenant earmarking it for educational use, has stood empty for more than a decade and Wrexham Council plans to remove asbestos from the building before knocking it down.

As recently as two months ago hopes remained the building might be renovated, but Cllr Pritchard now says extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the building means demolition is a more viable option.

The petition reads: “We, the undersigned wish to ensure the future of the building formerly known as Grove Park Girls’ School, Wrexham.

“This building was built as a dedicated girls’ grammar school in 1938 after formerly sharing a building with Grove Park Boys’ School. The building is now falling into disrepair and we are afraid that our local council will see fit to demolish it if it becomes too dilapidated.

“It is a beautiful red brick building and has many features of historical interest. With the rise in population recently, we feel that there could well be a need in a few years’ time for it to be used again as a school.

“However, the building could be put to good use for many cultural purposes but the main concern at the moment is that it should not fall further into disrepair.

“Please sign our petition so that we may urge local councillors to preserve this important part of Wrexham’s heritage.”

Last year, the site was due to be sold to Coleg Cambria to use it as a sports centre and teaching area for 16 to 19-year-olds.

But Wrexham Council pulled out of negotiations after deciding to retain the site to open a new school there in the future.

To view or sign the petition, go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-grove-park-girls-school-wrexham/.

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