DENBIGHSHIRE is a step closer purchasing a Victorian asylum building that has stood derelict for nearly 20 years.
At last week’s planning meeting, councillors voted in favour of a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the former North Wales Hospital, a Grade II* listed building.
The CPO was agreed by the cabinet at the end of July after a “lack of progress” by owners Freemont (Denbigh) Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands.
A CPO would force Freemont to sell up to Denbighshire County Council, for newly formed non-profit organisation North Wales Building Preservation Trust to manage restoration of the Grade II* listed building and selling of surrounding land.
Raymond Bartley, Denbigh county councillor, said: “I worked and trained at the North Wales Hospital for nearly 40 years and it’s been closed for nearly 20 years.
“We as a community hope to put good things on that land.”
Planning officers reassured councillors that money will come from a £1.9 million bond and none of Denbighshire County Council’s money will be spent on the CPO.
When the owner Ayub Bhailok received planning permission in 2006 the council required a financial bond for the repair of the building.
When the planning permission expired in 2009 without any developement the council obtained £1.9 million under the terms of the Deed of Release.
Councillor Colin Hughes said: “This is long overdue for this site and will hopefully send a message out to speculators that when buying up property with a listed building status, there comes with it a responsibility of care for our heritage.
“Just in Denbigh we have so many good examples of private owners looking after historic buildings such as Mostyn House and Bryn Parc. Those who own other buildings such as the Crown Hotel need to sit up and take notice that the people of Denbigh expect them to have a duty of care whilst our history is in their ownership.”
A council officer said: “If the unlikely event we do not succeed at least we tried and we would not be any worse off than we are now.”
Councillor Eryl Williams also said the then North Wales Health Authority who originally sold the building, should pay compensation to Denbighshire.
He said: “It is a disgrace that they are able to dissolve themselves of any responsibility.
“Sell it cheap and let someone else pick up the pieces.”
The decision for CPO will return to cabinet to be rubber-stamped, and then it would need to be approved by Welsh Government.