Private flats find home at Treasury

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The Independent Online
It promises to be the most prestigious residential address for international businessmen anywhere in the world: The Treasury Building, Whitehall, London SW1.

Imagine the thrill of hosting a dinner party in the rooms where the Budget was decided, the Lawson credit boom was launched, the blood of Black Wednesday and Britain's exit from the ERM was spilt.

After months of soul-searching, Treasury officials are expected to announce in the next few days that, under a pounds 200m development scheme, half their historic headquarters' 800,000 square feet will be turned over to tenants, for offices and flats.

According to Geoff Marsh of London Property Research, the flats will easily command the same top prices, more than pounds 600 per square foot,as the best properties in Mayfair and St James's. "It could be one of the truly great addresses," he enthuses. "It would be a place where world- class movers and shakers would like to have dinner parties."

The Treasury will join another nearby political landmark, County Hall, just across the Thames, as a provider of prime central-London living space. The reason, says Mr Marsh, is that it makes more commercial sense for developers to turn old, big properties, which are subject to planning constraints, into flats rather than offices.

Around 2,000 civil servants will remain in newly refurbished offices at the end nearest Parliament Street. The rest of the building will go to the private sector.

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