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Council brings legal challenge over listing of former school building

A council is to challenge a Welsh minister’s decision to list a former school building that the authority wants to demolish.

Wrexham Council plans to build one or two primary schools on the site of the former Groves school building, with funding under the 21st Century Schools Programme post - 2019. However, Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, approved the listing in August.

The council said that in deciding to take legal action, the members of its Executive Board had “balanced the risks and cost of a challenge against the ongoing expense of maintaining and using the building taking account of both its listed status and the restrictive covenants affecting its use”.

Wrexham’s Executive Board took its decision in Part II with the press and public excluded, on the basis that the report contained confidential legal advice.

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“There were a number of relevant issues which needed to be addressed by the Board in reaching its decision such as the likelihood of success of a legal challenge and the cost,” the council said.

“The confidential legal advice led members to believe the Secretary's decision was contrary to all the expert evidence, which concluded that the building does not meet the criteria for listing and in the absence of documentary or expert evidence in support of listing the decision was clearly challengeable.”

Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, said: "Executive Board has agreed to challenge the decision based on all the advice contained in the report. It is strongly felt that the Cabinet Secretary's decision is flawed and does not take into account Welsh Government advice and that of experts involved in the process. We do not believe it has been listed in the national interest or in accordance with the guidance used to make such decisions.”

A spokesman for Save Our Heritage, which has campaigned for the building to be saved from demolition, said the group was extremely disappointed. “We feel it is disrespectful to the residents of Wrexham to use tens of thousands of pounds of public money to challenge the Welsh Government listing decision,” he told News North Wales.

 

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