Plans to redevelop the site of the North Wales Hospital in Denbigh to create a vibrant new community have been welcomed by the author of a book about the historic institution.
Clwyd Wynne, from Denbigh, worked at the hospital, which treated mentally ill patients from across North Wales, for over 30 years and is chairman of the North Wales Hospital Historical Society.
Mr Wynne, now 72, was Nursing Manager at the hospital which was open from 1848 until its closure in 1995 since when it has lain derelict and a target for vandals and arsonists.
Now Vale of Clwyd-based contractors Jones Bros are starting a consultation with local residents prior to putting in a planning application to redevelop the site, including restoring the Grade Two listed main building.
The plans are on display at Denbigh Library and Jones Bros, whose headquarters are in Ruthin, holding an open event there, attended by senior staff, on Monday, December 9.
That date has been changed to allow more information to be made available and it will give interested parties the chance to ask about the plans for the site which once housed over 1500 patients, cared for by up to 1,000 staff.
Mr Wynne said: “It’s got to be good for Denbigh and I’m glad that the original 1848 building is being retained and restored and the fact that at last something positive is happening is great news.
“It was one of the main components of the economy of the town with the number of people who worked there, the people who visited relatives there and the local businesses that supplied it.
“People had a real empathy with the place because so many people worked there or had relatives who worked there and many patients would come into the town and were well accepted there.
“Many were very much taken to the hearts of the community because there were some real characters among them.
“It was a huge loss when it went. You could see Denbigh had changed and unfortunately at about the same time the cattle market also went and the loss of those two together was a massive blow from which it has taken a long time for the town to recover.”
Jones Bros, of Ruthin, are already in the process of building a brand new training centre at the Hospital site which will employ 20 people and train 60 apprentices a year while it will also be used to update the skills of the company’s 340 staff.
The Pre-application Communication Consultation is now being held prior to the submission of a planning application to Denbighshire County Council for the first phase of the redevelopment.
The Hospital’s U-shaped central section with its impressive façade is to be restored and turned into residential apartments and the hospital chapel is also to be preserved complemented by services which could include shops, restaurants and a gym for local residents.
The development of the site, which is expected to take 10 years and include the sensitively phased construction of 300 homes, will start with a clearing operation which will include the safe removal of asbestos and the restoration of the 36-acre site’s attractive woods and parkland.
Helen Morgan, of Jones Bros, will be at the event at Denbigh Library, and she said: “It is important to us to get the views of local people because the Hospital has played a huge part in the life of the town in the past and we believe these plans will enable the site to do so again.”
Mr Wynne, who is planning a second book on the story of the North Wales Hospital, added: “I’m pleased that it is a local firm that is carrying out the redevelopment because it will provide jobs for the area and the training centre will provide apprenticeship opportunities for young people and we need that to rebuild the town.
“There is still a lot of interest in the hospital even almost 25 years after it closed because it was always a bit of a mystery to so many people even though it was so important to the town.”