THE redevelopment of a former hospital that is subject to a housing proposal has taken a major step forward.

Denbighshire County Council has taken ownership of the derelict North Wales Hospital in Denbigh after it issued a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to former owners Salford-based Freemont Ltd at the start of September.

CPOs give local authorities the right to take over the ownership of a property in instances such as to prevent historic buildings from being neglected.

Freemont Ltd were given a 28 day period to make a legal challenge to the order, but none has been received by the council.

Cllr Hugh Evans, leader of Denbigh County Council, said: “This is such a historic occasion and we are delighted that the years of hard work, determination and commitment to protecting this historic listed building has reached this momentous point.

“The council has pulled out the stops from day one, investing its own funds to carry out essential maintenance work.

"The process has been lengthy and drawn out and the council has faced challenges from the owners at every step of the way. This has been infuriating and we have been extremely frustrated that this issue was not concluded earlier.

“However we have persevered, such was the commitment to protect the site from further deterioration."

As the new owners, the council will have the final say on proposals for the redevelopment of the site.

A preferred contractor was selected by the council in April, Ruthin-based Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK, who will partner with the North Wales Building Preservation Trust.

Jones Bros has proposed a predominantly housing-led redevelopment of the site.

The site will remain in the ownership of the council until the outcome of the Jones Bros planning application is known.

Cllr Evans added: “The council’s staff past and present, as well as councillors, have gone above and beyond the call of duty and have acted professionally, with integrity and transparency over the years to bring this matter to a conclusion.

“We would also like to thank the local community for their patience, co-operation and understanding.

“We fully recognise the importance of the site to local people and we want to ensure that the development of the site provides the most important listed buildings with a sustainable future whilst benefiting both the economy and local community in terms of jobs and housing."

Jones Bros has arranged to have a security presence, CCTV cameras and fencing at the site whilst the planning application awaits approval.

A spokesman for Jones Bros said: “We are pleased the transfer of ownership has been finalised, which is a key stepping stone in this project.

“As a Denbighshire company, we have always cared passionately about helping to grow the local economy, for the benefit of everyone in North Wales. We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the North Wales Building Preservation Trust on this development.”

The date for the planning application will be confirmed at a later date.