The town of Denbigh is an historic market town and centre for retail and professional services such as solicitors, accountants and estate agencies. At the low point of the recent economic downturn, in 2012, the number of vacant units in Denbigh town centre reached 15% but since then the situation has been improving falling to 10% in 2015. Additional retail units and new employment opportunities are being created just below the town centre at the Station Yard development.
Denbigh’s Colomendy industrial estate is a key assets with 115 units offering accommodation to a range of enterprises including construction, manufacturing, telecommunications, food, storage, PR, training, health and housing sectors. The town also has significant public sector employment too, with local government offices, Denbigh High School and leisure centre, St Brigid’s School, primary schools, Denbigh Library, and Denbigh Community Hospital.
Outside of the town there are significant employers at the Llandyrnog Creamery and Mental Health Care UK at Llangwyfan and of course agricultural businesses throughout the area.
Parts of Upper Denbigh and Henllan suffer from multiple deprivation and are included in the North Denbighshire Communities First area. There are high levels of unemployment, low household incomes and poor health and education outcomes.
The area contains a number of educational assets including:
Coleg Llandrillo -Denbigh Campus, part of the Grwp Llandrillo Menai offering course further and higher education courses.
- Denbigh High – A mixed English medium non-denominational secondary school
- St Brigid’s School – A mixed English medium Roman Catholic school.
- Myddelton College – A mixed independent fee paying boarding and day school.
- Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn – A mixed English medium nondenominational special school.
Nine Primary schools of which five are Welsh medium; Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch, Ysgol Carreg Emlyn (Cyffylliog site), Ysgol Henllan, Ysgol Pant Pastynog and Ysgol Twm Or Nant; four are English medium; Ysgol Bryn Clwyd, Ysgol Fron Goch, Ysgol Pendref, Ysgol Y Park Infant School; and one is a duel stream school: Ysgol Rhewl.
Levels of attainment at Key Stage 4 (GCSE equivalent) at St Brigid’s School have been consistently good in recent year. At Denbigh High levels of attainment consistently improved from 2010 to 2014 but 2015 was a comparatively poor year.
A significant recent development by the housing association Grŵp Cynefin is the HWB Dinbych that provides a range of support services for local people from in and around the Denbigh area. The primary aim of HWB Dinbych is to increase training and employment opportunities locally, achieved by working closely with local businesses, setting up self-employment initiatives, developing local enterprise opportunities and supporting young people into further learning.
Area of Denbigh Town and around Brookhouse Mill have historically been at risk of flooding. Flood management works have been deployed but the risk cannot be wholly eliminated.
The villages to both the west and east of Denbigh town suffer from the isolation and poor access to services common to rural areas. The wards of Llandyrnog and Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch along with Henllan display relatively high levels of deprivation in the access to services domain of the WIMD. These issues may be exacerbated by market failure in the provision of bus transport particularly affecting those areas south of Denbigh Town or those wishing to travel south of the town.
Nevertheless, examples of local action to build resilience and protect access to services can be found across the area.
Much of the Clwydian Range AONB sits within the Denbigh area with heathland and heather moorland providing habitats for rare plant and animal species. On the opposite side of the Vale Denbigh Moors and Hiraethog provide further upland habitats with the Llyn Brenig reservoir a significant water asset as well as a leisure destination and home to wildlife.
Mount Wood Community Woodland is a quality green open space strategically located immediately adjacent to the Communities First Area in Upper Denbigh. The site provides an excellent focus for community involvement, volunteer opportunities, recreation and biodiversity.
Cae Fron Community Orchard has been developed with local groups to allow access and to plant an orchard using tree species of local provenance e.g. Denbigh Plum
In common with other rural parts of the county the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union has created a period of uncertainty particularly affecting agricultural enterprises currently in receipt of aid under the common agricultural policy.
Across all of rural Denbighshire the energy efficiency and therefore long-term sustainability represents a potential risk. Homes outside of the mains gas network, older homes and those without modern insulation and heating systems present potential fuel poverty and environmental challenges.
Denbigh Community Hospital with its emphasis on care for older people, reablement and maternity care is a key facility in the local area.
The Health domain of the WIMD examines rates of limiting long-term illness, low birth weight, all cause death rate and cancer incidents rates. These are weighted to allow for differences in age profile in different areas. Both Upper Denbigh and Henllan and Denbigh Central appear to suffer from health deprivation utilising these measures.
It is also the case that the rural parts of the Denbigh area have relatively high rates of older people (over 65) meaning that the impact of age related illness is likely to be felt more here than in other areas. Significant research suggests that the number of older people with dementia is set to increase. Numbers of people whose illnesses or frailty means that they are no-longer able to perform daily self-care tasks are also predicted to increase; making health in older age a priority for the area. All these factors are likely to put pressure on social care providers including home care, traditional residential and nursing care and modern Extra-Care, reablement, and preventative services.
A history of tailored care, residential and employment facilities at Henllan, Llangwyfan and Aberwheeler as well as the legacy of the North Wales Hospital mean that there is a relatively high proportion of residents with mental health problems or learning disabilities within the area. Sustaining support for these groups is another priority. The Denbigh Area accounts for 15% of the population of Denbighshire but includes 17% of social services clients with learning disabilities, 19% of social services clients with ‘other’ vulnerabilities and 13% of clients with substance misuse problems.
Recent investment in leisure facilities in the area included extension of the fitness suite at Denbigh Leisure Centre to cater for demand as the existing facility was often full at peak times. The additional space will allow membership to grow from 650 to over 800. This investment follows the provision of a new exercise studio whilst new swimming pool changing rooms are planned for autumn 2016. In addition to the general membership these facilities support many clubs and societies and the successful exercise referral programme.
Investment in outdoor leisure is also planned including improvements to the Llyn Brenig Cycle Path, the Hiraethog Way and Brenig Way walking routes and Llwybr Tyrnog, Llwybr Clywedog and Henllan Community Miles routes.
The town of Denbigh has similar rates of older people (over 65) as the county as a whole with some parts (notably Upper Denbigh) with a younger profile. Outside of the town the rural areas have higher proportions of older people with Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch at 33% and Llandyrnog at 40% compared with 23% in Denbighshire and 19% in Wales.
Figures on other protected characteristics are not available at a local level although rates of limiting long-term illness provide an indication of the proportion of people who are disabled. Rates of limiting long-term illness are high in Upper Denbigh and Henllan and in Denbigh Central, whilst in other parts of the Denbigh area they are typical of those across the county as a whole.
Denbigh has slightly higher proportions of the population from a white (other than British, Welsh, English Scottish, or Northern Irish), Asian or British Asian (particularly Chinese) background compared to other parts of the county. These are not high when compared to areas in England.
The range of successful community organisations clubs and societies is seem as a positive indicator of community cohesion by established residents and new comer to the area as demonstrated in feedback from the county conversation. Sports clubs, youth provision and churches were felt to be particularly important. Residents felt that community groups and volunteering would become increasingly important in the future and that public agencies would have a role in providing support for groups and individuals to develop their knowledge of good governance, finance and other skills that would help community groups to improve and expand.
The work of Communities First and the services provided via the HWB are seen as key assets for community development and cohesion. Uncertainty about the replacement for the Communities First programme once it comes to an end is a concern for the area.
In common with other part of Denbighshire and Conwy rates of crime and anti-social behaviour are low. Town Centre areas across Wales have higher rates of crime and anti-social behaviour than residential and rural areas. Although Denbigh Central fairs relatively poorly in the community safety domain of the Welsh Index of multiple deprivation this largely as a result of comparison with residential and rural areas. When a more proper comparison with other town centres is undertaken Denbigh Central does not appear to be an area of particular concern.
The Denbigh area has a range of significant heritage assets including the CADW managed sites, Denbigh Castle and town walls as well as the historic architecture of Denbigh Town, which can be visited as part of the successful open-doors scheme. Other sites of interest include Myddleton College, St Marcella’s Church , St Dyfnog’s Church and well at Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch, the Hillforts of Moel Arthur and Penycloddiau and the North Wales Hospital. Theatr Twm O’r Nant has recently benefited from substantial investment and is a key cultural asset for the area.
The Denbigh area contains some of the highest proportions of Welsh speakers in the county with 50% speaking Welsh in Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch down to 27% in Upper Denbigh and Henllan. Ysgol Twm o’r Nant recently extended its provision to cater for more primary children through the medium of Welsh. Denbigh also host the Welsh language provision for ‘late comers’ to the language offering an immersive education for primary age children to give them a start in the language.