WREXHAM GROVES SCHOOL: Plans to re-use school are held up
A DERELICT secondary school in Wrexham could be turned into a medical training facility, it’s been revealed.
However, plans to bring the Groves School on the edge of the town centre back into use are currently being hampered because of travel restrictions designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Wrexham Council signed heads of terms with an unnamed company to allow it to take on the listed building in February last year.
It’s now been disclosed that international healthcare company Apollo is behind proposals to convert the boarded-up school into a training base for medical staff.
The firm already has a site in Crewe, known as the Apollo Buckingham Health Sciences Campus, which is used to recruit doctors, nurses and other professionals from India to come and work in the UK.
The plans for a new facility in Wrexham are on hold though because of the pandemic, according to a report from a group of councillors set up to examine the future use of the Groves.
It states: “The Groves project is still a work in progress. The Covid-19 pandemic has not helped.
“The building is also subject to agreed heads of terms with ApolloMedi.
“However, the project is based on immigration of Indian medical staff and the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped much of the travel needed.
“The work of the task and finish group has therefore been put on hold pending further development, but it is hoped that an update will be available for a meeting of the group sometime in May 2021.”
Expressions of interest in the building were sought in early 2019 amid a long-running debate over its future.
The council previously failed in its attempts to demolish the school after it was listed by the Welsh Government following a community campaign to save it.
The local authority conducted a feasibility study to look at the possibility of reusing it as a primary school, but the estimated £11.5m refurbishment costs were judged to be too high.
The council has also agreed terms with Wrexham AFC to take on a separate part of the site to create a training facility.
However, that project has also been thrown into doubt after the club was taken over by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who are understood to be considering alternative locations in the area.
The report adds: “The council has agreed heads of terms with Wrexham FC to lease the playing fields.
“We await further developments, pending the takeover.”
The whole Groves site was once due to be sold to Coleg Cambria, but those plans fell through as the college chose to remodel its existing campus nearby.
Council leaders have pledged that any future proposals for the school will involve the building being retained.
The update will be presented to members of the authority’s lifelong learning scrutiny committee on Thursday (April 15, 2021).
Apollo has been contacted for comment on its plans for the site.
Words: Liam Randall, Local Democracy Reporter
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