On 21 May 2013 I wrote a few words about Scotland Yard moving back to Scotland Yard, as it were. The move was precipitated by the existing building reaching that stage of its life when over £50m would need to be spent on it; this is money that could simply not be justified on a building that was in any case not really suitable for present needs and at a time of unprecedented financial stringency. The former Scotland Yard building was available (or, rather, a small portion of it) and the decision was made to move back there and dispose of the 1967 building in Broadway. The building on the Embankment (built just before the Second World War) has been empty since 2011.
To that end it was announced on 13 November 2014 that the building had been sold for £370m to Abu Dhabi Financial Group, a Middle East investor which plans to replace the 1960s block with luxury apartments. It plans to demolish the 600,000 sq ft building and build blocks of flats along with shops and offices of a similar height – 230ft – giving views of Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, so reports go. The Estate Agent fraternity observe that the new luxury apartments should generate up to £100m in stamp duty when they are sold, as they will be priced over the £925,000 level that attracts a 10 per cent rate. A nice little windfall for HM Treasury, you might think, but not perhaps all that good for those stuck at the bottom of the housing ladder. The move back to the Embankment will cost about £58m but is expected to save more than £6m a year in running costs, the Metropolitan Police estimates; this represents benefits additional to the sale proceeds. It must be borne in mind, though, that the Metropolitan Police only purchased the freehold of the Broadway building in 2008, for £123m.
The Embankment building has a floor space of about 93,000 sq ft; less, in fact, than my guess of a sixth of the size of the Broadway building. My last blog made a bet that the new building would not be big enough, and guess what? It appears that concerns have now emerged that the new building is not large enough to accommodate the residue of the 2000 staff located in the existing building who cannot be relocated in the remaining (and rapidly diminishing) police estate. Modelling has apparently suggested that additional accommodation may need to be rented – this is still being examined. Some staff will relocate to 109 Lambeth Road which will be refurbished. It has been said the legal department will move to Holborn (in the tower block above the police station). Others will be moved to other surviving properties where teams will be co-located and attempts made to increase building utilization by, for example, reducing the number of single occupancy offices.
The Metropolitan Police itself refers to the work taking place on the Embankment building as a ‘refurbishment’, the main works costing about £33m. I invite you to study the attached image of the work actually taking place which in my view shows a category of activity surely better described as complete reconstruction! They might almost as easily, and perhaps more easily, have started again. The idea was to move in towards the end of 2015 but owing to some complication during the planning process the programme has been slipped by 26 weeks putting a move more likely in Spring 2016.
And here is an artist’s impression of the completed building on Victoria Embankment.
Finally, some interesting links to additional information.
First we have a magnificent set of interior photos taken just after the 1967 building opened and which may be seen HERE.
Next, and this is a must see, is a wonderful Pathe Newsreel film of the move from the old building on the Embankment to Broadway in 1967. Somehow policing seems then to have been so much a more gentlemanly activity. Watch and enjoy HERE.
You can see an elevation of the new Embankment building HERE, but give it a moment to download.
Finally there are some floor plans HERE (allow a moment to download). Eight storeys, a lower ground floor and two basement levels. Given when the building was constructed (just before WW2) I suspect the basements were designed as air raid shelters. Suitable now for lots of documents and IT systems I suppose.
All for now