GRADE II*-listed Castle Hill House in Huntingdon High Street and the site of what was to have been a third office block for Huntingdonshire District Council’s new headquarters look set to be sold off when the property market picks up.

GRADE II*-listed Castle Hill House in Huntingdon High Street and the site of what was to have been a third office block for Huntingdonshire District Council's new headquarters look set to be sold off when the property market picks up.

In the meantime, HDC is saving a six-figure sum in business rates by leaving the former wartime headquarters of the RAF's Pathfinder Squadron empty.

The original plan had been to convert Castle Hill House into high-quality flats and sell the building for about £1million to offset the £16million cost of the new headquarters. But English Heritage resisted the proposal and it soon became clear that no workable agreement was possible.

So the council decided to keep the building as offices and sell instead the site of 'Building A', planned for the old Pathfinder House car park in St Mary's Street. At a second attempt, HDC granted itself planning permission for 14 flats, and expected to sell the site to a developer to build them.

But the bottom fell out of the property market in 2007, and the site remains boarded up and barely touched since an archaeological dig four years ago.

In the end, the council decided that, with a number of employees working from home and some revision of the original plans for where staff would be deployed in the new building, it needed neither Castle Hill House nor Building A for its own use.

Now HDC is looking at the feasibility of a possible development of the Castle Hill House site, along with the adjacent Methodist Church site, which is in separate ownership.

"There's a marriage value there," said Malcolm Sharp, one of the council's most senior directors. Building A could be included in that or disposed of separately.

But there is no rush to take the possibility into a depressed property market. When it picks up, however, HDC will be looking for the proceeds from sales to reduce the net cost of its headquarters, the final part of which opened in May.