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Insurance deal clears the way for Grimshaw's Minerva replacement

Work is finally set to start to on Grimshaw’s St Botolphs development in the City of London – to be built instead of the abandoned 53-storey Minerva Tower.

The news comes after landowner Minerva said it had signed a 20-year lease with global insurance broker Lockton to house its new European headquarters in a much smaller, redesigned scheme.

The agreement, which will see Lockton take around 8,400m2 of office space within the 56,000m2 development, ends years of speculation about the future of the site and Grimshaw’s proposals.

Back in 2002, Minerva submitted plans for a 217m-tall skyscraper which won planning in 2004, making it the first recent tower to be approved without a public enquiry.

But despite this propitious start, rumours later emerged that Minerva was also looking at a shorter 14-storey scheme – reports which were confirmed in August 2006.

However, until the lease was officially signed yesterday it remained unclear whether Grimshaw would be given the chance to build anything on the site.

Commenting on the announcement, Salmaan Hasan, chief executive of Minerva, said: ‘This is a significant milestone for Minerva and we are delighted that Lockton, which recently jumped into the world’s top 10 insurance brokerages, has chosen St Botolphs as its new headquarters in London.’

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