Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 12:17 UK

1.78m bill for demolished houses

Homes alongside A494 at Aston on Deeside
The Welsh Assembly Government said many homes were bought in the 1990s

Demolition work has begun on 43 homes bought by the Welsh Assembly Government for £1.78m to make way for a failed road expansion plan.

The cost of acquiring the houses at Aston Hill, Flintshire, was revealed following a BBC News website request.

They were bought to make way for a seven-lane "super highway" on the A494, which was thrown out following a public inquiry.

Conservative AM Mark Isherwood said: "What an astronomical waste of money".

The AM for North Wales and Conservative social justice spokesman said: "This is on top of the £3,000 a month it has cost for security guards to patrol the empty properties.

"As the public inquiry at which I gave evidence exposed, Transport Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government had not done their homework."

The controversial scheme to widen the A494 received about 2,700 objections, and the plan was eventually scrapped in March 2008.

Alternatives are being considered, but local councillors have said it could take up to two years before anything new is approved.

The assembly government bought the homes over a number of years at market value.

It has also confirmed it has been paying about £3,000 a month for security guards to patrol and protect the empty houses.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "The 43 uninhabitable properties included in the demolition and associated land, acquired through Statutory and Discretionary Blight processes from November 1992 onwards, cost a total of £1.78M.

"Most of those properties purchased were managed and let up until 2007.

"We are now planning to release some of the land to provide new affordable houses."

Demolition, expected to last four weeks, began earlier this month.

A plan to build affordable housing on the site has been submitted.

Mr Isherwood added: "The only good thing that to come out of this will be affordable housing for local people - and let us make sure it does go to local people."

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