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BEYOND REPAIR; Wing to be demolished after 40 firefighters battle flames.

Byline: SARAH HODGSON Daily Post Reporter sarah.hodgson@trinitymirror.com

A FIRE-RAVAGED wing of the former North Wales Hospital will have to be demolished after the roof collapsed.

More than 40 firefighters battled the blaze at the historic site in Denbigh yesterday after the alarm was raised shortly after 3am.

The blaze broke out in a section of the main Grade II listed building which was due to be redeveloped into apartments and business units.

As the last fire crew left the scene at 3pm, Denbighshire council declared the building "beyond repair" and urged people to stay away from the site.

A council spokesman said investigations have begun into the cause of the blaze, adding: "The fire was contained within a wing of the main building.

"Unfortunately, this is part of the building that was earmarked for restoration and redevelopment, but because of the seriousness of the fire the damage is beyond repair and it will need to be demolished."

Denbigh town councillor Marilyn Jones, a former nurse who worked at the hospital between 1984 and 1990, told of her sadness over the news the building will be knocked down.

She said: "It has been in a dangerous state for a while. It is very sad what has happened. I feel that everything that could be done to save it was done and I feel very sorry for those at the council who worked on it as their hands were tied.

"I worked there for several years and I have very fond memories of it, so it is sad for me.

"One resident who lives nearby tells me people were always going in to the site - it is a blessing nobody has been killed."

The local authority won a compulsory purchase order for the former mental health hospital in March 2016 after a long legal battle with owners Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd, and in November 2016 approved PS11m regeneration plans for the site.

The Prince's Regeneration Trust, in partnership with North Wales Building Preservation Trust (NWBPT), wants to transform the derelict buildings into 34 apartments and build 200 homes and 1,114 sq metres of business units in the grounds.

Denbighshire council yesterday said it still intended to complete the compulsory purchase and hand the site to NWBPT.

The council spokesman added: "We are shocked and appalled at the actions of those who have caused so much damage to a site that we have been trying to protect for many years, pursuing every legal option to try to achieve a sustainable outcome for the site.

"It is reckless behaviour which also puts lives at risk and we urge people to stay away from the site.

"We are helping North Wales Police and the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who are leading on the investigations.

"It is still the council's intention to complete the compulsory purchase order and then transfer the site to NWBPT, who are currently completing the details of their business plan."

Denbigh county councillor Gwyneth Kensler said she is it would be a "big shame" to lose the hospital after the years of hard work to try and save it.

She added: "I am hoping they can somehow save the facade of the building and that if anything can be saved it is saved.

"A lot of time and resources have been put in to save the site and it is now wasted.

"I keep thinking about the people who donated the land and raised money for the building which was created to provide for Welsh speaking people. It'll all be lost.

"It has been a huge fight to save the building but it has just been battered over the years and gotten into a state. It's incredibly sad."

Speaking at the scene of the blaze, local resident Phil Parry said: "It's got history that maybe a lot of people do not want to associate with but it is a gorgeous building and so much more could have been done with it."

The Daily Post contacted Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd and the Prince's Regeneration Trust for comment.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 3, 2017
Words:678
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