A WELSH Government Bill awaiting royal assent could hand a lifeline to a town centre building.
Wrexham Council plans to knock down the old Groves school building on Powell Road to build new schools on the site.
But campaigners fighting to save the building could get their wish – at least temporarily – as the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill could be used to slap an emergency preservation order on it.
Deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism Ken Skates said: “A recent spot-listing request for The Groves is currently being considered by Cadw.
“The Historic Environment Bill does include a measure allowing Welsh Ministers to make regulations for the creation of preservation notices.
“These will improve protection for Wales’ precious listed buildings. The Bill will also introduce new measures for formal consultation on the listing of buildings.
“These include provisions for interim protection to safeguard buildings from damage or demolition while consultation takes place.”
Last month campaigners behind the Save Our Heritage group trying to save the old Groves school building contacted Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, to obtain listed building status to stop the school from being demolished.
In an email to campaigners, Anna Irwin, senior conservation officer for Wrexham Council, confirmed a site visit would be conducted by Cadw to see if the building is suitable for listed status.
She said: “A formal request has been made to Cadw for consideration of the building for listed building status. We have been in discussion with Cadw following this request and arrangements are now being made to enable their inspection of the building.
“No demolition work will take place before this visit has been made.”
A Wrexham Council spokesman said no date had been set for demolition work to begin.
The decision to demolish the Groves building was taken in January at an executive board meeting.
Just a few days’ notice was given of the proposal and no public consultation was undertaken ahead of the executive board vote.
A motion to ‘call in’ the executive board decision to demolish the school was narrowly defeated – six votes to five – by the council’s customer and performance scrutiny committee.
Other options had been discussed, such as demolishing part of the building but retaining the facade at a cost of £418,000, as well as an extra £155,000 per year to protect it while waiting for any development to go ahead, and retaining and mothballing the site at a cost of £375,000.
Once demolished, the council plans to build a new school on the site to meet increasing demand as Wrexham’s population is expected to grow by about 20,000 by 2028, with between 10,000 and 15,000 new homes to be built across the area during that time.
Members of Wrexham’s administration have confirmed that the former Groves site is to be redeveloped for education purposes only, as per the covenants that exist on the land, and not for commercial, retail or housing purposes.