Former North Wales Hospital - Denbigh
The Former North Wales Hospital was built in 1844-8, to provide care for Welsh speaking people suffering from mental illnesses. It was extended in the 1860s and again in the 20th century and by 1956 there were 1500 patients. The Health Authority announced closure in 1987 and the last patient left in 1995. Since then, the abandoned site has fallen into a serious state of disrepair.
The main hospital building is Grade II* listed and is described as "an exceptionally fine and pioneering example of early Victorian asylum architecture".
With the support of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, local elected Community and County Council Members, we have been working very hard in recent years to find a solution for the site so that the important listed buildings can be restored and the whole site brought back to a beneficial use including, employment, apprenticeships, housing and community use.
The site of the former North Wales Hospital is in a serious state of disrepair. We discourage anyone from entering the buildings in the interests of their own safety.
Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)
In September 2013, the Council’s Planning Committee voted in favour of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the former North Wales Hospital, after the owners, Freemont (Denbigh) Limited failed to comply with a Repairs Notice which required them to carry out significant repairs to the buildings on site.
The CPO required that the owners of that time sell the building to Denbighshire County Council, who would later transfer ownership of the site to a development partner.
In September 2015, the CPO was successfully granted to the Council by the Welsh Government. Planning Committee then agreed to authorise the serving of a General Vested Declaration, the final step in the CPO process which resulted in DCC securing ownership and taking possession of the site in 2018.
Who are the current owners of the former North Wales Hospital site?
Denbighshire County Council are the owners, while Jones Bros are currently in possession of the site. Ownership will be transferred to Jones Bros upon planning permission being granted and s.106 legal agreement being completed.
What is Denbighshire County Council’s interest in the site?
Denbigh Hospital is an important grade II* listed building set within an extensive site. There are a number of other listed buildings within the site but the Council’s focus has always been on securing the restoration of the most important listed building of local, regional and national importance. The hospital was closed in 1995 and prior to DCC taking ownership, the site has had two owners. Since closure it has suffered from neglect, vandalism and theft. It is now in an extremely dilapidated state.
The previous owners of the site had allowed the buildings to deteriorate. A decision was made for Denbighshire County Council to compulsory purchasing the site using powers available to local authorities under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
What are the future proposals for the site?
Following completion of the CPO, Denbighshire County Council appointed a preferred development partner for the site and entered into a Development Agreement with Jones Bros in July 2018.
There were a number of ongoing key requirements within the development agreement that Jones Bros were obligated to implement and maintain. Such requirements related to insurance, health & safety, on site security and planning consent.
The redevelopment proposals for the former North Wales Hospital submitted by Jones Bros (Ruthin Holdings Ltd) were presented to Denbighshire’s Planning Committee on 8 September 2021. The Committee resolved to grant planning permission subject to various conditions and on the understanding details of a s.106 legal agreement be further presented to the Committee.
Jones Bros and their various environmental consultants are progressing the production of further technical information. This will be required to satisfy Natural Resources Wales before any potential first phase demolition work could commence on site. Once this information is produced it will be submitted back to the Local Planning Authority alongside updated plans and documents and then put onto the public planning portal. Planning Committee will then meet again to give final ratification of planning conditions and the s.106 legal agreement. Once all statutory consents have been issued necessary demolition work could then commence.
You can view the details of a planning application submitted by Jones Bros in May 2020.
There has always been an acceptance that in order to safeguard and successfully renovate the listed building there would be a financial shortfall in any development on the site. The provision of enabling development has assisted in generating viability funding but there is still a significant funding gap to make the project viable.
DCC Officers have engaged with a number of public funding streams in order to lever in some public funding to address the viability gap. i.e. UK Government Levelling Up Funding, Growth Deal, Welsh Government, however, not all applications have proved successful. The breakthrough came when Ambition North Wales (ANW – Growth Deal) committed £7m of grant funding to address abnormal development costs in the project subject to business cases and other documentation being approved. It is anticipated that all business cases will be completed and submitted to ANW in late 2023 or early 2024.
Why has it taken so long to rescue the site?
Trying to save the important listed buildings and the site has been a long and complicated issue. Our main concern has always been to preserve the main range historic buildings on the site. The work that we have already undertaken, including the securing of the CPO have been the most complex ever undertaken on a listed building in Wales.
Can I visit the former the North Wales Hospital site?
No, you should not go anywhere near the buildings or even on the site.
The site is extremely dangerous and contains hazardous materials. Anyone who goes onto the site without permission is trespassing.
How can I play a part in supporting the former North Wales Hospital site?
There is a vision for the site that has been developed in partnership by Denbighshire County Council and Jones Bros and has involved some community consultation / engagement including providing the town council with regular updates.
Having now taken possession of the site, Jones Bros continue to work with the local community to help further develop the vision and implement the much needed re-development of the site. The re-development of the site led by Jones Bros presents a tremendous opportunity for the local community in terms of construction jobs and apprenticeships during the re-development phase which will bring economic benefits for the town of Denbigh and wider community.
This short video sets out some of the history of the site and details of the urgent work that were carried out by the council in default.