THE approved sale of the former River Lodge Hotel in Llangollen as part of plans to turn it into a new health centre has been met with fierce criticism.
The Welsh Government economy minister Edwina Hart has approved the sale of the site to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
But Martin Crumpton, of Keep Llangollen Special, has hit out at plans to turn it into a health centre, believing those who will use it the most will struggle to access the facility.
He said: “It’s a simple fact the pavement to the new health centre isn’t wide enough for a mobility scooter and we’re incredulous these plans could be approved. The only feasible way of getting there is with transport and the bus service was cancelled at the end of last month. The bulk of the population live on two adjacent estates, Maes Mawr and Pengwern, and they lie to the south and east of the town.
“The site of the new health centre lies to the north, across the river, and to the east of the town centre, through which all traffic, vehicular or pedestrian, must pass.”
He added: “If you are an athlete you could handle the three to four mile round trip, but it’s not ideal for the elderly, or young mothers with prams and children who are on foot. The people who will have most need of the centre will struggle for access. I don’t know why they have been so desperate to build it there.”
The site has been at the heart of controversy, with the Welsh Government accused of wasting money on the project. Plans were in place for the site to be used as a centre for tourism and the community, involving the hotel being leased back to the Powys Fadog social group to run it as a martial arts and cultural centre.
The building was bought, at a cost of £1.6 million, by the Welsh Government with this intention in 2007. But after long delays, the project was eventually dropped.
A statement on the Welsh Government website said: “The minister for economy, science and transport has been asked to approve the sale of River Lodge, Llangollen, to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.”
The statement said they had agreed the proposals.
A BCUHB spokesman said it looks forward to progressing with the next stage of the Primary Care Resource Centre project, hoping to offer “a light, modern and spacious building to bring together a wide range of integrated services” provided by the GP practice, the health board, Denbighshire County Council social services and the voluntary sector.
It is hoped the development will be completed in mid-2015.