HOPES have been raised that a solution could be on the horizon for a derelict school in Wrexham which has stood empty for about 16 years.

The Groves School on Chester Road closed its doors in 2006 and has been subject to a long-running debate over its future.

Owners Wrexham Council previously planned to demolish the building on the edge of the town centre to make way for two new schools.

However, they were prevented from doing so after the Welsh Government stepped in to list it in August 2016 following an appeal by campaigners.

Several proposals to give the site a new lease of life have fallen through over the years, including plans to create a new college campus for Coleg Cambria.

Last year, a bid by healthcare company Apollo to turn the school into a medical training facility also failed after progress stalled because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Read more: What next for former Groves School after medical training facility plans fall through?

Council leader Mark Pritchard, who heads up the ruling independent/Conservative coalition on the local authority, has now revealed news could soon be forthcoming on its future use.

The Leader: Council leader, Mark PritchardCouncil leader, Mark Pritchard

Whilst he did not provide any specific details on the proposals, Cllr Pritchard said yesterday (Tuesday, 7 June): “There are ongoing conversations with reference to the Groves and hopefully there will be something brought forward as a report in the very near future.

“We’ve asked all departments to see if there’s an opportunity that they could use the building.

“Mark Drakeford did say that it was up to Wrexham Council to put proposals forward for the building and that is what we will consider and look to do.

The Leader: The old Groves School, WrexhamThe old Groves School, Wrexham

“We always had ambitions to put two schools on that site but unfortunately it was listed by the Welsh Government.

“I believe now that because they listed it, they have a duty and there’s an expectation from the people of Wrexham for the Welsh Government to pay for it.”

The ongoing uncertainty over the fate of the old school reared its head again recently after it was highlighted in a public letter by a newly elected councillor.

Conservative politician Robert Ian Williams, who was voted in to represent the Bangor-is-y-coed ward at last month’s local election, called for action to be taken to finally bring the saga to a close.

Writing to The Leader, he said: “For years now the neglect of the Groves School has been a blight on the face of Wrexham.

“My view is that the school, once modernised and the site developed would be an excellent place for a badly needed second Welsh medium high school.

“Surely Welsh Government can provide the cash, as they have designated hundreds of millions in their commitment to the Welsh language.”

The council previously conducted a feasibility study to look at the possibility of bringing the school back into use for education.

However, it said refurbishing the building would be too expensive, with an estimated cost of £11.5 million to turn it into a primary school, and it was later declared surplus to requirements.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said last year that the Welsh Government would be willing to assist in finding a use for the site but stressed the onus was on the local authority.

His comments were made after he was responsible for making the final decision to list the school in his former role as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government.