Taunton unused fire control centre to be rented out

Empty Taunton fire control centre
Image caption The government has the lease for the empty building for another 15 years

A fire control centre in Taunton that has stood empty since being built in 2007 has been put up for rent.

The previous Labour government intended it to be one of nine regional bases to replace 46 control rooms in England, but plans were scrapped in 2010.

It is owned by the Department of Communities and Local Government and costs the taxpayer £137,000 per month.

Computer issues meant it was never opened and the plan was eventually scrapped by the coalition government.

'Oven-ready solution'

The government has the lease for the building at Blackbrook Business Park for another 15 years.

It has now instructed property management company GVA to rent the building for some £450,000 a year.

Ben O'Connor, from GVA, described the building as an "oven-ready solution for a wide range of potential occupiers looking for a high specification finish, in-built technology and a resilient, extremely secure environment."

Last year Devon and Somerset Fire Authority had enquired about taking over the building but talks with the government broke down after failing to agree an acceptable rate.

In July, Conservative minister Baroness Hanham wrote an update on the situation on behalf of the Department of Communities and Local Government.

She said that public sector tenants had been sought but the net was now being widened to attract tenants from a wider range of organisations including those from the private sector.

"We have taken firm steps to reduce the costs of the unused control centres. For example, the facilities management bill has been reduced by 25% and the utilities bill by 35%," she added.

"While we will continue to seek to drive down these costs to make savings for the taxpayer, the largest saving will come from finding suitable tenants to take over the buildings."

The 30,000sq ft empty fire centre was intended to serve the South West from Gloucestershire to Cornwall.

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