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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Prince's plea over hospital future
Prince Charles at the former hospital

People in Denbighshire are being asked for their reaction to plans to restore an old hospital - the day after Prince Charles spoke about the "destruction" of its Victorian character.

The former psychiatric hospital in Denbigh has fallen into disrepair and been vandalised since it closed in 1995.

The Grade-II listed building is recognised as a pioneering example of early Victorian asylum architecture.

Urging action to repair the property, the Prince of Wales added: "I am not prepared to see this huge legacy squandered, especially as, with imagination, it would be a huge asset."

"This shocking example of asset stripping is truly heartbreaking," the prince said.

He added that the previous owner has been allowed to get away with a huge profit from its destruction.

We were shocked at the condition of the building
Owners, Acebench Investments

Mr Hitman, a Lancashire-based businessman who bought the site from North Wales Health Authority for 155,000 has not been available to comment on the prince's remarks.

He sold the building, built between 1846 and 1848, after selling off parts of the land.

Mr Hitman had planned to build a housing development on the 120-acre site.

However, he ran into opposition from local people and the listed building was left empty until it was bought at auction by Acebench Investments, who still own the property.

The company paid 310,000 for it at auction in 2002.

The prince travelled to the former hospital on Monday in his capacity as president of the Prince of Wales's Phoenix Trust.

The trust was set up to repair and find new uses for major historic buildings which are in danger of falling into decay or facing demolition.

He said the former hospital was one of the buildings which had inspired him to act and he said he was not prepared "to see this huge legacy squandered, especially as, with imagination, it could be a huge asset".

Denbighshire County Council, CADW, the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) the current owners and Phoenix Trust have all backed a feasibility study into potential uses.

None of the partners have commented on the speech made by the prince.

The Phoenix Trust's plans for the gothic-style building involve the demolition of some of the more modern buildings and the conversion of the more attractive parts into apartments and flats.

A tennis court and bowling green will be among the facilities for the public to enjoy.

An exhibition of the plans is on display in Denbigh library until 24 July.


SEE ALSO:
Public to have say on hospital future
06 Mar 04  |  North East Wales


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