Plans to revamp Llandrindod Wells' iconic Automobile Palace to make it 'fit for purpose'

Plans for a £3.3m refurbishment of an iconic listed building have been lodged with planners.

Llandrindod Wells' Automobile Palace
Llandrindod Wells' Automobile Palace

The proposal centres on Llandrindod Wells' Automobile Palace, which was bought by Powys County Council (PCC) last year. The authority has now submitted a listed building consent planning application to change the building’s interior.

The building closed as a garage in the early 1990s 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.

Agents, Heart of Wales Property Services (HOWPS) explained the proposal in a Heritage Impact Assessment.

HOWPS said: “The Automobile Palace has been granted funding for refurbishment and alteration works to the building with the aim of providing fit for purpose, business-focussed facilities to aid and support the regeneration of Llandrindod Wells and the wider community.

“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.”

While the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a shift away from offices to other models of working the report says that the council is “keen” to provide flexible units that would appeal to the “widest range” of businesses.

The Welsh Government said that the project total cost is expected to be £3.3 million, and the council will receive £1.585 million towards it from the Transforming Towns funding programme.

The Automobile Palace is a Grade II* listed building and is an example of an exceptionally early two-storey grid-pattern steel-framed building. It is described as standing 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, not far from the railway station.

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

In 1911, Norton built the Automobile Palace premises at a cost of around £11,000.

The building was designed by architect Wellington Thomas 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.

The application could be decided by councillors on the Powys Planning committee – but it depends s on whether the application is judged to be a “major” one and should be decided by councillors.

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