Empty Taunton fire control centre sold to investment company

Image caption,
The Taunton site was one of nine planned regional fire control centres that were never opened

An empty fire control centre, which has been unused since it was built in 2007, has been sold to a real estate investment company.

The building in Taunton has been bought by Aprirose for £14m. It will be let to the government until August 2027.

Last year a BBC investigation showed the site had already cost the government more than £16m in charges.

Taunton Deane's Conservative MP Rebecca Pow said she was "disappointed" that "little had changed".

"I am disappointed that practically this means that little has changed, other than the rent will be paid to a different landlord," she said.

"Much of the problems lie in the fact that we entered into these complex arrangements under the last Labour government and they tied us in with contracts and agreements that are extremely difficult to get out of."

She said that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government "are doing everything they can to try and get tenants into the building, or even part of the building, to help alleviate the burden on the taxpayer".

'Actively marketed'

The Taunton site was one of nine planned regional control centres to replace 46 separate centres across the country.

But in 2010, with costs spiralling and major delays to the IT software programme, the coalition government cancelled the scheme.

Some of the buildings have been converted for other uses, while others, including Taunton, remain empty.

Figures obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request last year showed the Taunton site had cost the government £16.7m in rent, utilities and management up until the end of 2016 - almost double the £8.9m it cost to build.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the centre was "being actively marketed to identify and secure a new tenant".

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