Page last updated at 06:52 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

Prison plan for former hospital

Denbigh Hospital
Denbigh Hospital was built in 1844 and closed in 1995

A former psychiatric hospital could become a prison under new proposals.

A meeting involving the owners of the North Wales Hospital site in Denbigh and a Ministry of Justice minister has taken place to discuss the plans.

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane, who arranged the meeting, said there was a strong need for a prison in the area.

Sites in four different towns - Caernarfon, Wrexham, Cwmbran and Merthyr Tydfil - are on a shortlist for the location of a new jail for Wales.

In June, a report found that plans to develop the former psychiatric hospital, which is a Grade II listed building, were "no longer viable" because of the housing market slump.

Lancashire-based owners Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd wanted to build up to 280 homes, businesses and community facilities on the site.

In October, Denbighshire council's executive said it supported calls for a prison in north Wales and said it would contact the North Wales Criminal Justice board to gauge whether there was support for a proposed prison in two sites, one of which was the North Wales Hospital site.

Something does need to be done with the site sooner rather than let it decay any further
Chris Ruane MP

Mr Ruane said he had been approached by Freemont and arranged for them to present their case to David Hanson MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice.

"There is a very strong need for a prison in north Wales," said Mr Ruane.

"The owners of the former hospital site presented a very strong case for it to be sited in Denbigh.

"The state of what was - and in the main part still is - a wonderful building is a disgrace and something does need to be done with the site sooner rather than let it decay any further."

The Prison Service unveiled its shortlist for potential prison sites in Wales in August.

The list includes: the former Centrex site in Cwmbran; a site at Goatmill Road in Merthyr Tydfil; the old Dynamex/Ferodo site in Caernarfon and the old Firestone factory site in Wrexham.

The final decision on which site will be used will be made when all the feedback has been considered, said the Ministry of Justice.

The proposed site will then be subject to planning permission.

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