Plans to demolish Ysbyty Minffordd in Bangor, which had become a ‘magnet’ for anti-social behaviour and a serious safety risk, have been put on hold after concerns that bats could be nesting in the derelict buildings.
The hospital closed in 2006 and planning had been given to turn it into a 36-bed specialist care facility, but the building went back on the market in 2017, with no work done and the planning approval has now expired.
A report form the North Wales Arson Reduction Team found that the site is being used by youths from as far away as Holywell and police were concerned that the buildings were known to be a meeting a place for drug dealers. Police had also identified the buildings were being used by prostitutes.
The report said that: “The buildings and the activities associated with the trespass are of serious concern to the police and the local community. The concerns include potential harm to the trespassers as the buildings structural stability cannot be guaranteed, the risk of exposure to asbestos containing materials and arson related hazards. Demolition of the buildings and site clearance would appear to the solution of the problems outlined above.”
Bangor City Council had no objections to the demolition but following concerns from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that bats could be residing in the derelict buildings the demolition plans have been put on hold.
In a letter to Gwynedd Council, NRW said they had ‘significant concerns’ about the plans and they advised that further information is required to demonstrate that the proposed demolition would not be likely to harm or disturb the bats or their breeding sites and resting places at the site.
Bats and their breeding and resting places are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. While NRW accepted the condition of the buildings had deteriorated since their last assessment in 2017, they reiterated the requirement for works to be carried out to compensate the loss of a maternity roost for Brown Long Eared and common Pipistrelle bats, should demolition be approved.
The hospital was built in 1895 in the aftermath of the 1882 typhoid epidemic that accounted for 42 deaths around the Bangor area. The hospital included a number of isolation wards.
In recent years, Minffordd became a community hospital, and also housed the Gwynedd Alzheimers Society. After a lengthy public consultation the hospital closed in 2006.
Both the arson reduction team and police support the application to demolish the site. Had the planning been approved the demolition was due to start on 30 April.