US embassy in London likely to be listed

The American embassy building in London may be listed (landmarked), which would make it difficult to introduce enhanced security measures. Located in Grosvenor Square, in the heart of Mayfair, the 600-room chancery was built in 1960 by Finnish-born US architect Eero Saarinen.

Earlier this month an English Heritage spokesperson told us: “We are considering the American embassy for possible designation [as listed] and we are still in the process of preparing our advice for consideration by the Secretary of State.” The indications are that a recommendation for listing is likely. The listing of embassies can be problematic, since diplomatic status can be invoked, although in practice regulations are usually respected.

There have been reports that the US embassy is considering the sale of its long-lease (said to be worth £90m) and might move out of central London, possibly to Isleworth in the west of the capital or Greenwich in the south-east.

An US spokesman told us: “The embassy continues to consider a number of options to help bolster security and accommodate growth. Relocation is one option; so is reconstruction, redesign, renovation. No decision on the embassy’s future has yet been made.”

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