A DEVELOPER has confirmed he is "fully committed" to his plans to transform a former hospital into two hotels, a number of homes and a centre of excellence, despite yesterday's fire which engulfed the roof of the building.

Multi-millionaire Lawrence Kenwright and Signature Investments has put forward his proposals for the North Wales Hospital in Denbigh, which are set to create more than 200 jobs in the area and will keep the original site.

Yesterday, the property went up in flames. The building has repeatedly been targeted by arsonists.

The fire is believed to have been started deliberately.

Mr Kenwright said the council needs to need to stop "procrastinating as this is not helping the development" and "allowing these vandals to keep damaging the building".

Mr Kenwright, chairman of Signature Living, said: "The fire at Denbigh Asylum is an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately the longer the site remains derelict and falling into further disrepair, the more we will lose the heritage and fabric of this historic development.

"It is imperative that the council do not delay plans any further to develop The site as it is also now becoming a health and safety hazard to the public.

"Signature Livings plans remain unchanged for the development of Denbigh Asylum."

Following the blaze, North Wales Police, North Wales Fire Rescue Service and Denbighshire County Council have launched a joint investigation.

Kevin Roberts, senior fire safety manager, said: "Deliberate fires place tremendous pressure on resources, with our crews tied up trying to bring them under control, which in turn delays firefighters from attending life threatening incidents.

"It could be you or a member of your family that requires our assistance and we may not be able to get to you as quickly or as easily as we would like because we have to deal with a deliberate fire.

"We would discourage anyone from entering the buildings in the interests of their own safety. These incidents are putting the lives of firefighters and the public at risk.

"Setting fires is a criminal offence and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is actively working alongside North Wales Police to combat deliberate incidents."

Leader of Denbighshire, councillor Hugh Evans, said: “We are truly saddened to hear about the fire on Wednesday and the fact it was started deliberately beggars belief.

“This is the latest in a line of arson incidents at the location and despite repeated calls by the Council and the emergency services, some individuals continue to place their own lives and that of others at risk, not to mention posing the significant threat to the future of the historic building."

The Council has been progressing with a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process to obtain the land.

Cllr Evans added: "That process is lengthy and not yet complete. This means that the site continues to be owned by an off shore company based in the British Virgin Islands and issues around the site’s safety are the responsibility of the landowner.

"However, the Council would like to reassure residents and those interested in the future of the site that it is fully committed to continuing with the completion of the CPO process, to protect this historic site for future generations".

The Former North Wales Hospital - the main building being a Grade II listed building - was built in 1844-8, to provide care for Welsh speaking people suffering from mental illnesses. It was extended in the 1860s and again in the 20th century and by 1956 there were 1500 patients.

The Health Authority announced closure in 1987 and the last patient left in 1995. Since then, the abandoned site has fallen into a serious state of disrepair.

DI Simon Kneale of North Wales Police said; “We are working closely with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service on this investigation. I would appeal to anyone who has information or who may have seen any suspicious activity at the site yesterday or over the weekend."

Anyone with information is asked to contact North Wales Police on 101. Quote reference W042193.