Plans to rejuvenate a derelict Flintshire hospital have been approved amid warnings that damage by criminals has left it on the brink of collapse.
Around 90 new homes will now be created in and around the old Lluesty Hospital in Holywell as part of proposals which will see the original workhouse preserved and converted into apartments.
Councillors were told today that much of the 19th century property had fallen into a state of disrepair following incidents of theft and arson since it closed in 2008.
An application by the new owners of the site was supported by officers from Flintshire Council after permission for a similar scheme granted in 2016 expired.
Addressing a meeting of the local authority’s planning committee, an architect acting on behalf of McCrory Brickwork Limited said the redevelopment was crucial to the future of the listed buildings.
Grant Prescott said: “It is a landmark site and has an elevated vantage point looking out towards the Dee Estuary in the distance.
“Having sat vacant and redundant without a use for the last decade or so, the site has been subject to decay and deterioration from the elements, while anti-social behaviours issues are an ongoing challenge.
“The building has been subject to arson attacks, unauthorised access and vandalism during this time and if this is allowed to continue then quite simply there is a very real risk of catastrophic loss of the heritage asset.
“The applicant took possession of the site in 2018 and are committed to sensitively conserving the historic buildings as part of the proposed works.”
The original buildings are estimated to have been built between 1838 and 1840, when the workhouse was first established.
A total of 42 apartments will be created as a result of the refurbishment of the existing structures.
Meanwhile, 20 houses and a new-build block of 27 apartments will also be constructed in the grounds of the hospital.
Approval was given by councillors despite reservations being raised about the absence of affordable housing in the scheme.
It came after the developers said such a requirement would make their proposals financially unsound.
Cllr Richard Jones said: “I don’t know whether it is financially viable to incorporate affordable housing, which is an extremely serious matter.
“We need that affordable housing and we need to be sure absolutely.”
In response, officers said a financial assessment put forward by the firm had been closely scrutinised, including details of the estimated costs of repairs and construction and the land acquisition.
The council’s head of planning strategy Andy Roberts said councillors needed to consider that it was a listed building which might not be brought back into use otherwise.
He said: “What I can assure members of is the commitment that this developer has to take on what is not an easy task to restore this building.
“It’s something that’s had a number of false dawns over the last ten years, but it’s very clear and evident in the risk they’ve already invested in the repairs they’ve already carried out.
“What Holywell will end up with is a landmark building for the right reasons and not its current eyesore landmark.”
The proposals were approved unanimously by the committee at the end of the debate.
It follows plans to turn the infirmary wing of the old hospital and surrounding land into 30 properties being supported at a meeting held earlier this year.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).