Refurb for iconic town building given green light

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Wednesday 6th April 2022 4:00 pm
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The east side of the Auto Palace building in Llandrindod Wells
(Google StreetView )

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Plans to refurbish the iconic Automobile Palace listed building in Llandrindod Wells have been approved by Powys planners.

In February, Powys County Council (PCC) who bought the building last year, lodged a listed building consent planning application with planners to change the building’s interior.

The aim of the £3.3 million refurbishment and alteration works to the building is to provide fit for purpose, business-focussed facilities for Llandrindod Wells and the wider community.

The building closed as a garage in the early 1990’s before being converted to business units and recent occupiers of the building have included the National Cycle Museum,  Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency, and the Job Centre.

Planning officer Luke Jones said: “The Automobile Palace is a significant building in several respects; its method and date of construction, its use, and its position in Llandrindod Wells.

“The PCC built heritage officer raised no objection to the development and considers the proposed works would not cause any harm to the listed building.

“In light of this it is considered that the proposed development fundamentally complies with relevant planning policy and the recommendation is one of conditional consent.”

Agents, Heart of Wales Property Services (HOWPS) explained why the alterations are needed, they said: “In order to attract new tenants to occupy the building, the units and the associated services and facilities in the building need upgrading or alteration to ensure that they provide suitable amenities for the anticipated occupiers and users of the building.”

The council has received £1.585 million from the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme towards the project.

At a meeting in February, Llandrindod Wells Town Council supported the scheme.

Automobile Palace is Grade II* (star) listed building and is an example of an exceptionally early two-storey grid-pattern steel-framed building stands out as a fine example of 20th century architecture in the town.

The name of its creator, Tom Norton, is still emblazoned on its frontage.

He opened a bike shop in the Old Market Hall on the High Street in 1899, near to the railway station.

At the turn of the 20th century, he turned his attention to motorcycles and cars.

In 1911, Norton built as it was known then The Palace of Sport at a cost of around £11,000.

Architect Wellington Thomas designed the building, and it had a capacity for 80 cars over 11,056-square-feet.

The building has been enlarged to three times its previous size in the same style.

The two-storey building had nine bays, art deco fronting, 22 lions, shields, and egg-and-dart moulded cornices.

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