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Home Office set to knock Marsham Street down

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Marsham Street, the notorious former Department of the Environment block, has moved closer to destruction after a surprise move by the government to invite the three consortia bidding to create a new Home Office hq to submit rejigged plans for a new-build office.

The Home Office admitted it was the first time the government had so openly supported a new-build option over refurbishment, which was originally favoured by two of the bidders. The teams for the pfi project, thought to be worth around £60 million, are: Terry Farrell & Partners with Godfrey Bradman (whose original scheme envisaged demolition of Marsham Street); bdp with Jarvis; and Fitzroy Robinson and im Pei with Bovis. The latter two teams wanted to refurbish the Queen Anne's Gate hq which would have been cheaper.

The Home Office said a new building would minimise disruption and tie in with new it and streamlined working practices planned for the millennium. 'It would be very risky to have all this going on alongside a phased decamp out and then moving back in again. ... We will have to prove to the Treasury the plans will give value for money.'

The new building will house almost 3000 staff, including those from the prison service, in around 8000m2. It will have a restaurant, library and sports facilities. The Home Office aims to evaluate all the bids by the end of the year and make a start on site early next year on the two- to-three-year project. Though it is possible the new building could be designed on another site, there are few options in Westminster for new build and Marsham Street looked doomed, it said.

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