Who knew, the National Assembly for Wales building, Ty Hywel, is now owned by a company in the British Virgin Isles (BVI).
Private Eye have been busy researching all the property in England and Wales, and discovered that Ty Hywel has been sold in March 2014 to a company in the BVI for £40,500,000. How did this come about?
The building was originally owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), the privatised result of the sell off of the British Docks Board by Thatcher in 1982. It was leased to the old Welsh Office’s Welsh Health Technical Services Organisation (WHTSO) when it transferred from its previous HQ on Newport Road. Unfortunately only a couple of years later WHTSO was wound up, and Ty Hywel remained empty for a while.
Following a “consultation” process to decide whether the new Welsh Assembly should sit in Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth or Newtown, it eventually ended up in Ty Hywel, in Cardiff Bay. Many people would have preferred to see it located in the (also empty) Cardiff City Hall, which was conveniently close to the Welsh Office building in Cathays Park, but that was not to be. This was partly as a result of the falling out between Ron Davies, the Welsh Office Minister, and Russell Goodway, the Leader of Cardiff Council, and partly, in my view, because of the eye-watering rent of £17 per square foot being paid by the Welsh Office for the empty building.
So, in 1999 the Assembly moved in, and following the completion of the new Richard Rogers designed Sennedd in 2006, Ty Hywel was linked to the Sennedd by a skyway. However, this leaves one building on a leasehold tenancy, and the other freehold, and neither can really function without the other.
So its difficult to imagine the Assembly not renewing the lease in the future. This makes Ty Hywel a very valuable building, and ABP have cashed in their chips and sold it to a BVI company for over £40million.
The Houses of Parliament at Westminster are entirely freehold, but in Wales we have to rent!
As Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) said – “buy land, they’re not making it any more”.