The government has leased, for 99 years, London’s landmark Admiralty Arch to Prime Investors Capital Limited (PIC), Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced today. The deal will raise £60 million for taxpayers and marks the beginning of one of the largest and most exciting restoration projects in recent years.
London-based PIC were selected following a competitive bid process. They have assembled a team of British specialist companies and consultants with an extensive track record of working with historic properties to undertake the sensitive restoration of Admiralty Arch to the designs of its original architect, Sir Aston Webb. It will be transformed into a landmark hotel, with the building remaining in the ultimate control of taxpayers, as the government has retained the freehold of the property.
To restore the Grade-I listed building, PIC has worked closely with English Heritage and Westminster City Council. PIC plans to reinstate many lost features using original Sir Aston Webb drawings from around 1910. For years the Arch has been inaccessible to anyone beyond government, however under the agreement the building will be opened up to the public, including through restaurant and bar areas.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:
I’m delighted that the leasing of Admiralty Arch will not only see this landmark building restored to its former glory and opened to the public - but will raise £60 million for the taxpayer.
Our innovative new approach to managing the government’s property estate has helped us generate more than £640 million of savings for the taxpayer since the General Election.
At present Admiralty Arch is not being used and is costing £900,000 a year to run. Rather than letting it fall into disrepair we are taking action. British specialists will work closely with English Heritage and Westminster Council to bring the Arch back to life. The restoration will bring jobs to London and beyond. The freehold of the building will remain in the hands of the public, ensuring they have a say in the future of this building forever.
Admiralty Arch was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, the late Queen Victoria and was designed by Sir Aston Webb in 1910. The Grade-I listed building was completed in 1912. Its purpose was to provide a ceremonial passage from Trafalgar Square towards Buckingham Palace. Though it originally housed offices and residences for the Sea Lords of the Admiralty, Admiralty Arch is currently empty and has never before been open to the public. It requires extensive restoration and is not suitable for a modern office.
CEO of Prime Investors Capital, Rafael Serrano, said:
We are committed to preserving the iconic status of Admiralty Arch and celebrating Sir Aston Webb’s historic design, while restoring, modernising and adapting it sensitively for a new use that will sustain its value for future generations.
We will be working with H.M. Government, Westminster City Council, English Heritage, The Royal Parks and local stakeholders during the planning process. We will deliver the very finest hotel for London, with an unrivalled history and location, while providing maximum security measures to protect surrounding government buildings and areas of State importance.
Nigel Barker, Head of Development Management for English Heritage, said:
We welcome the process that has been followed by the government to ensure that the significance of this important heritage asset is properly understood and protected in the course of its disposal and re-use. This has been achieved through the commissioning of a conservation plan prior to the marketing of the property and through the involvement of English Heritage staff at all stages, including interviews with the short-listed bidders.
This Grade-I listed building was completed in 1912 as offices for the Admiralty, incorporating the residence of the First Sea Lord. The proposed conversion to hotel use would allow a degree of public access to the fine interiors, as well as ensuring the conservation of the building to a high standard. The external appearance of this prominent London landmark would be left almost unchanged.
Notes to editors
Admiralty Arch originally housed offices and residences for the Sea Lords of the Admiralty and was used by the Navy and the Ministry of Defence until 1994.
A 99-year lease for Admiralty Arch has been sold for an agreed premium of £60m to PIC, subject to a number of conditions to be satisfied within three years including planning permission. There is also an option for PIC to call for a 125-year lease before the lease is granted for an additional £5m.
Prime Investors Capital is a London-based investment company, which has brought together a unique, UK-based team of 20 British companies. Each company has a considerable and successful track record in its particular field of expertise, and working with buildings of national importance.
Rafael Serrano, Chief Executive of Prime Investors Capital, is a former J.P. Morgan investment banker who has lived and worked in London for 25 years and successfully delivered the newly opened Bvlgari Hotel and Residences in Knightsbridge. Serrano is leading the team of experts, which includes architect Michael Blair, of Blair Associates Architecture, who undertook the extensive restoration of Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Ritz, English Heritage expert Dr Christopher Miele, whose portfolio includes Westminster Abbey, The V&A, The British Museum and The Ritz, and construction partner Sir Robert McAlpine, which has more than 150 years’ experience in working with Grade I listed buildings.
PIC will hold a public exhibition and consultation as part of the planning process. Westminster City Council and English Heritage have been consulted on the development of the plans to date and will continue to be closely involved as the project develops. PIC’s scheme was not only the best-developed but also the best tested with the planning authority and English Heritage.
As of 30 September 2012 the government has exited 1,070 buildings and achieved total savings of £362 million. For more information about the government property strategy please visit: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk
A series of pictures of Admiralty Arch can be found here.