Posted: Fri 18th Mar 2016

Prime Minister Hails Denbighshire’s Efforts Over Former North Wales Hospital Site

This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 18th, 2016

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has supported Denbighshire County Council’s stance on the former North Wales Hospital, saying the Council was right to use its compulsory purchase powers. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Cameron made his comments in response to a question raised by Vale of Clwyd MP, Dr James Davies who referred to the success of Denbighshire and questioned how government could prevent these “national assets” from being owned by off shore companies with little interest in investing in the buildings and who in effect are not fit and proper to own such important buildings”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Prime Minister stated he was fully aware of the North Wales Hospital case, stating it was “no way to treat a Grade II listed building” and that Denbighshire was “absolutely right” to use its powers. He went on to state that Councils should have confidence in using their powers to protect historic buildings. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Last week, an application by the owner of the former North Wales Hospital site to overturn a the decision of the WG Minister to confirm the Council’s compulsory purchase order was refused by the High Court– a decision hailed by the Council at the time as being a ‘victory for common sense’. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The owner also applied for a judicial review over a claim by Denbighshire to recover the cost of urgent works to protect the Grade II listed building. This application was also refused. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The High Court said both applications were “totally without merit”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Council’s Planning Committee voted in favour of the CPO for the site back in September 2013 after the owners Freemont (Denbigh) Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands, failed to comply with a Repairs Notice served by the Council, which required the owners to carry out significant repairs to the buildings on site. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A Public Inquiry was held following a decision by the owner of the site to challenge the CPO served by the Council. The CPO was granted by the WG Minister Carl Seargent in September 2015. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The CPO decision allowed the Council to take ownership of the site who intend to pass the ownership of the site onto the North Wales Building Preservation Trust (a Charitable Trust). The Trust will manage the restoration of the main buildings by progressing enabling development on the associated land, the profit from which will fund the restoration of the most important listed buildings and the demolition of a number of less important buildings. The newly formed Trust is a none profit making organisation, who will receive support from the Princes Regeneration Trust. A planning application for the enabling development has been submitted to the Council by the Princes Regeneration Trust. It is anticipated that the planning application will be reported to Planning Committee within the next couple of months. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment, said: “We are delighted to see that our efforts to protect and preserve this historic building has been recognised by the Prime Minister, in response to a question by the Vale of Clwyd MP.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The protection of historic buildings of heritage importance is a national issue and the Council has led the way through using its powers to preserve the building for future generations. The Council’s main consideration has always been about protecting the main historic building and despite protracted efforts, the owners have failed to act to protect the building. This meant that the Council had to step in, in the interest of conserving the building and in the public interest.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Council would also like to make it clear that work will not start on site for some time and that the site is not yet in public ownership. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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