NEITHER St Asaph nor Denbigh would be suitable sites for a new super-prison.
That’s the view of council bosses in a report discussed at a meeting of Denbighshire County Council yesterday.
The Ministry of Justice announced back in January it planned to close six prisons in England and build a big new facility which would either be in London, the North West or North Wales.
The former North Wales Hospital in Denbigh and the Greengates site in St Asaph had both been put forward as possible locations for a prison in the past and in January community leaders in the towns told the Free Press they still felt the sites were suitable.
But now a report to councillors says there are problems with both locations.
“The Ministry of Justice has not yet published details of site requirements. However, it is unlikely that land available at Greengates Farm would be sufficiently large enough to accommodate a larger prison,” said Angela Loftus, the council’s planning policy and public protection manager.
“It is also felt that the former Denbigh Hospital site would not be an appropriate site for the size and type of prison being considered.
“The former hospital is a grade 2* listed building and there is insufficient land on the remainder of the site to accommodate a prison of this size.”
She added: “A prison would require the total demolition of all buildings on the site and the construction of a very large building which will have little aesthetic quality thereby detrimentally affecting the setting of Denbigh Castle. There would also be issues of overlooking from the castle which would compromise security.”
Denbigh councillor Raymond Bartley said it was “unfortunate” the former hospital would not fit the bill.
“For 2,000 people even with demolition of the hospital the site wouldn’t be big enough,” he said.
“The town council has filled in a form that we would still like to be considered but it doesn’t look like Denbigh will be a likely spot. It would have helped with employment, it would have been beneficial for the town.”
The North Wales Regional Partnership Board is still committed to backing a prison for North Wales, with benefits such as jobs and improvements to rehabilitation listed, but other suggested locations have not been revealed in the report.
The next step will be for officers from each council in North Wales to meet with Ministry of Justice officials to secure details of the site criteria required and then produce a shortlist of options.