GCHQ will get pounds 300m rebuild

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The Independent Online
GCHQ, the Government's electronic spying post, is to be rebuilt at a cost of about pounds 300m, the Foreign Secretary announced yesterday.

Robin Cook said the eavesdropping service would stay in Cheltenham after selecting the so-called "donut" design for a new hi-tech headquarters. GCHQ carries out signal intelligence by monitoring a variety of communications and signals, such as radar.

A spokesman for GCHQ said the staff were delighted to be staying in Cheltenham. The present headquarters is on two sites, and the new circular building will house all the staff.

Rebuilding the headquarters, which is expected to be completed by mid- 2002, will allow the technology and accommodation to be upgraded.

Some of the buildings date from the time it was a hospital during the Second World War, and are increasingly incompatible with modern technology.

The new offices will be open-plan and unions are pressing for staff facilities, including a gym, grocery store, creche and flower shop.

GCHQ was established in 1946 as the post-war successor of the Government Code and Cipher School.