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Council sells vast site of former mental health asylum

28 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Parc Dewi Sant, Carmarthen

Richard Youle LDRS Reporter

A West Wales council has sold off a vast complex of land and buildings which once formed the county’s mental health asylum.

Carmarthenshire Council cabinet members accepted an offer for the 38-acre site, which has 22 buildings, after going into closed session at a recent meeting.

A sales brochure from August this year said offers of more than £2.5 million were being invited.

Relocation of staff

Thesale will eliminate maintenance costs of £200,000 per year from the council’s books and reduce its carbon footprint. A small number of council staff will remain at Parc Dewi Sant in the short term; the remainder will move to other offices.

Subject to contract the sale will be on a long leasehold basis, and enable the council to have an input over any future use of the buildings for at least 25 years. Other organisations which have a presence at Parc Dewi Sant will retain their tenancy rights.

Councillor Alun Lenny, cabinet member for resources, said: “With our intention to sell Parc Dewi Sant, I would like to reassure all council staff who work from the site that they will be accommodated at appropriate council-owned office spaces elsewhere in the county, and that this will be a gradual process of relocation.” The council’s headquarters is County Hall, Carmarthen.

Grade two listed

The sales brochure said opportunities for the Job’s Well Road site included some potential residential use, plus new builds. Particular consideration, it said, would be given to proposals which supported the Carmarthen town economy.

Parc Dewi Sant began life in 1865 as the Carmarthenshire, Cardigan and Pembrokeshire County Asylum, according to a National Monuments Record of Wales database. The hilltop hospital expanded and had more than 900 beds by the early 1970s. Thirty years later it was mostly empty.

The database, called Coflein, said the former hospital featured segregated exercise yards, plus infirmary blocks, workshops, a large dining hall, chapel, and a detached hospital for infectious diseases. The main block at Parc Dewi Sant is grade two-listed.

Councllor Lenny visited the former mental health hospital in the 1980s when working as a journalist, and also played there once with a band he was in called Cadno. He told the cabinet that it hadn’t at that point changed very much from its Victorian days.

He said the vast majority of people being looked after at the hospital transferred out into the community as part of mental health care reforms introduced by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He also shared that the mental health charity, Mind, helped to provide support at a centre on Priory Street, but that the effects of being institutionalised lingered long for some former patients.


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A.Redman
A.Redman
3 months ago

Should the £2.5 million be achieved have the Council said what plans they may have for that money?

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

Have they ever been short of ideas on how to blow money?

GPB
GPB
2 months ago

The difficulty of running a collection of old buildings must have been very difficult and expensive for the council. It has been well known locally that the major buildings had huge problems with damp. For long periods of time scaffolding was a regular feature of the main building as contractors tried to find and block up leaks in the facade and roof. Decorative roof features that were popular when the building was built were costly and difficult to maintain. When the building was first taken over by the council it was suggested that heavy items of furniture such as filing… Read more »

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