Initial plans for a multimillion-pound redevelopment of a North Wales hospital were approved by the assembly’s health minister Lesley Griffiths.

The Welsh government has earmarked almost £77m for the project for Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan, near Rhyl.

It has already benefited from £7.1m to remove asbestos and for fire safety measures - as well as a further £5.44m for new operating theatres and a urology day care unit.

The new plans by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which runs Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, aim to ensure the hospital meets the latest fire and health and safety standards, and bring together services currently spread over the site.

The health board will develop its proposals further in an outline business case.

Ms Griffiths said: “Ysbyty Glan Clwyd has, and will continue to have, a key role in delivering health services in north Wales.

“Once completed, this investment will significantly improve the care for patients and the working environment for staff.

“We are maintaining our investment in the health service across Wales in cash terms over the next three years - despite the impact of the UK government’s cuts to the Welsh budget.”

Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board professor Merfyn Jones said he was delighted by the minister’s approval of the scheme.

He added: “This is an exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to make great improvements to patient care at Glan Clwyd Hospital. This project will allow us to redevelop and improve the hospital so our staff can continue to deliver high standards in modern healthcare facilities.”

A Welsh government spokesman said that when Glan Clwyd was built in the 1970s asbestos use was “commonplace as a fire retardant coating on structural steelwork”.