Controversial plans to put a “private hospital” on the site of former council offices have passed by one vote.

The application which applies to the former Denbighshire county council building on Brighton Road, Rhyl, mirrored one rejected by the Planning Inspectorate for Wales on January 7 this year.

The 61-bed, six ward facility was proposed by Dr Nadarajah Pragash of Llangollen and would provide 130 jobs.

A previous application by him, for a hospital caring for those with mental disorders, who may have associated personality and trauma-related issues, was refused by Denbighshire council’s planning committee in July last year.

A 150 signature petition was submitted against those original plans.

Rhyl councillors Brian Jones and Tony Thomas objected to the latest development on the grounds of the effects it would have on residents and local amenity – and over-intensification of care homes in the area.

They claimed accepting the scheme could adversely affect local care business who were already struggling because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Jones said he was worried about the “effect on crime and disorder” in the area the new unit might have.

He added: “Residents believe this application is carried over from the last one.

“This is basically the same application for a mental health unit. It’s exactly the same as before, where the model doesn’t stack up.

“There’s a local feeling they do not want this to happen.”

Cllr Thomas said unless local nursing homes were protected “they will go out of business”.

He added: “Betsi Cadwaladr says there is no need for a mental health unit, so people will be coming from out of the area.

“That would be adding pressure to our local services. This application is not needed.”

Cllr Alan James and Cllr Mark Young referred to what they believed were negative comments about mental health from councillors Jones and Thomas, but Cllr Jones replied: “I didn’t make any detrimental comments about people with mental health.

“What I did say was about the effect on crime and disorder. I would like Cllr Alan James to take that back.”

A consultation response from Betsi Cadwaladr’s assistant director of health strategy, Sally Baxter, said it wasn’t clear whether the unit was going to be a mental health unit, as proposed previously.

She continued: “We raised concern previously regarding the lack of clarity over the service model, need and demand.

“We note that the refreshed application refers to a ‘hospital for residential nursing and healthcare’.

“We note that others have raised again the issue of the low level of need in the local area and therefore the assumption must be that the providers will be seeking to support people from outside the area.”

Officers said the business model was not a matter for consideration by the planning committee, just the change of use from offices to C2 residential institution.

This, said officers, did not mean it could be used as a secure hospital – which would need different permission.

In a tense vote, councillors decided by nine to eight in favour of the development.

However it later transpired one committee member, Ruthin’s Emrys Wynne, couldn’t access the remote meeting because of technological issues.

He later confirmed he would have voted for the proposal.