Page last updated at 05:42 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 06:42 UK

Credit crunch hits fire HQ sale

Lanelay Hall
Lanelay Hall is too costly for the brigade to keep

The sale of a fire service headquarters is in doubt after a housing developer pulled out of buying it because of the credit crunch.

South Wales Fire Service is relocating from Lanelay Hall in Pontyclun to nearby Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Taylor Wimpey has cancelled its plans, while officials have been warned the land's value has since fallen by 35%.

The fire authority is meeting to decide whether to wait for the housing market to improve before selling.

The 16th Century building and 11.5 acres of grounds were put up for sale last year after it was deemed to be too "cramped and overcrowded" for workers after an organisational restructure.

The building, which was rebuilt in a gothic style in the 19th Century, also needed 9m of repairs and improvements to bring it up to standard.

Instead, it was agreed that the headquarters should be relocated and a new building was bought at the Fforest View Business Park, in nearby Llantrisant.

The new site is currently being adapted for the fire service and it is estimated that staff can begin to move there in December.

Value of land

Taylor Wimpey, which wanted to build homes on the site and convert Lanelay Hall into flats, pulled out of the purchase in May because of the state of the housing market.

A report to South Wales Fire Authority members, which will be discussed later said: "There has been a considerable change in the housing market conditions within recent months, and as a result of this, Taylor Wimpey's board of directors resolved that Taylor Wimpey were to cease the purchase of land in the South Wales area for the foreseeable future."

The report recommends the that fire authority puts the sale on hold until the market conditions improve or until they can secure planning permission for housing developments.

Meanwhile, the site would be leased to other businesses.

The report warns against re-marketing the site to other developers because "given the current market conditions, it is anticipated that the value that will be realised for the land will be considerably less than previously expected".

It adds it is estimated that the value for land for residential development has fallen by approximately 35% since September 2007 "and is likely to fall further in the short term".

It also says that to 'mothball' the hall would cost 223,350 per year.

Lanelay Hall was the headquarters of the former Mid Glamorgan fire brigade from the early 1950s.

When it merged with South Glamorgan and Gwent brigades in 1996, the building became the main base for the new South Wales service.

Among those connected with the hall in the past were the eccentric Bassett sisters, known as the Three Ladies of Lanelay, who lived there in seclusion in the 19th Century.

Fire service HQ put up for sale
27 Apr 07 |  South East Wales

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