The future of one of Wales’s iconic buildings now looks brighter after Denbighshire County Council planners opened the way for the redevelopment of the historic North Wales Hospital in Denbigh.
An application by Vale of Clwyd-based Jones Bros to redevelop the 50.6-acre site of the Grade Two Star-listed former psychiatric hospital has been approved by the Council’s Planning Committee.
The decision was welcomed by the Leader of Denbighshire Council, Hugh Evans, but remains subject to a Section 106 Agreement to be signed by Jones Bros and the Council and which will place conditions on the development.
But once that has been agreed it will open the way for a project which will boost the local economy by £75 million and create 1200 jobs.
Cllr Evans said: “The recent history of the North Wales Hospital site has been a long and difficult one but this is a key milestone on the journey to a better future for a building that has a special link with the town and its people.
“There are still other milestones to reach before work can start on the redevelopment and the restoration of the key buildings but this is a crucial step on the road to reintegrating this historic site with the town of Denbigh.”
The Hospital, which closed in 1995 and since then the huge site has deteriorated through periods of ownership by different prospective developers, a deterioration made worse by regular incidents of arson and vandalism.
It had opened in 1848 to provide care for people suffering from mental illnesses from across North Wales and by the 1950s it housed over 1500 patients and employed up to 2,000 locally-based staff.
The main hospital building, described as ‘an exceptionally fine and pioneering example of early Victorian asylum architecture’, will be preserved under the plans submitted by Jones Bros and approved by the Council’s Planning Committee.
Their 10-year project will restore and convert the magnificent central section of the hospital into residential apartments which will be complemented by a mix of services which could include shops, restaurants and a gym.
Elsewhere on the site they plan to build up to 300 homes styled on traditional Denbigh and Vale of Clwyd houses and possibly include a shop, a pub and a brand new, purpose-built ground for Denbigh Cricket Club.
Helen Morgan, the third generation of her family at the head of Jones Bros, is in charge of the Hospital project and she said: “The regeneration of this site has a special significance for us as a company because we are based here in the Vale of Clwyd and the majority of our employees live locally.
“We believe this scheme can be a landmark development for Wales and as well as providing a real community of high-quality housing for Denbigh it will also deliver skilled jobs and apprenticeships, help develop local supply chains and provide a multi-million pound boost to the Denbighshire economy.”
Jones Bros outlined their commitment to the scheme by setting up a training centre on part of the site which has previously been granted temporary planning permission.
Training Centre Manager Garmon Hafal said: “This is an ideal site. It’s a great place to work with really nice surroundings and the facilities are excellent.”
Trainer Mike Roberts remembers the North Wales Hospital well: “We came here to a dance in the Sixties and they had Joe Loss and his Orchestra who were the biggest band around then.
“A friend of mine from Llanelidan came here to work as a kitchen assistant and it was his job to crack 1500 eggs every morning for the breakfasts.”