A PETITION has been launched against auctioning off a historic corn mill in Wrexham after the council was accused of selling off the town’s heritage.
The King’s Mill, which dates back to the 18th century, is due to go under the hammer next month with a minimum opening bid of £155,000 being invited.
The property was used as a visitor centre during the 1990s after being gifted to Wrexham Council by former Erddig estate owner Philip Yorke two decades earlier.
The building has stood empty since 2012 which resulted in a group of local people uniting to try and save it by converting it into a community hub.
Members of the Melin y Brenin Community Group claim they have been ignored since submitting their proposals to the local authority more than two years ago.
Council officials have now moved to get rid of the old mill to save on maintenance costs.
However, group chairman Phil Phillips has called on them to reverse the decision, describing the property as an important part of the town’s Clywedog Trail walking route.
Posting on the online petition, which has attracted more than 400 signatures in the 24 hours since it was launched, he said: “For three years we have fought to lease the building and grounds from the council to ensure that King’s Mill remains a community asset, complying with every request the council has made, but despite this the council has suddenly decided to sell the building to the highest bidder.
“This means another part of Wrexham’s rich heritage will be lost to the people forever.
“We are in a partnership which is trying to restore and revitalise the flagship trail of which the mill is an important part.
“There is a covenant on the building which states that it should be kept for community use which the council blatantly ignored when it decided to sell the mill rather than transfer it to a community enterprise.”
He added: “We urge the council to stop this auction, honour the covenant and return the mill to our community.
“We want to preserve and promote the mill’s story for future generations.”
The River Clywedog, on which the mill stands, played a key part in the town’s industrial heritage.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, there were said to have been 17 mills along its length, which were used for grinding corn and malt.
While the mill closed in 1940 as new industries took over, it remains a prominent feature on the walking trail.
A Wrexham Council spokesman said the decision to sell the building had been made as the authority has no plans to use it.
But hopes have been raised that auctioning it will allow it to be preserved, with auctioneers Landwood Property Auction describing the site has having “development potential subject to planning”.
The council spokesman said: “The decision to sell was an asset management decision based on the current liabilities, cost to refurbish and potential sale proceeds.
“The Corporate Land and Buildings Strategy Group was consulted and supported this approach and recommended the sale on the open market. This is what is now being implemented.
“The buildings and land are being sold with the covenant in place, and that will be a consideration for prospective purchasers.
“It is being sold on the open market and so is open to bids from all interested organisations, groups or individuals.”
The petition can be viewed at www.change.org/p/wrexham-council-save-king-s-mill-for-the-community