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Millbank gains new owner and possibly SOM as tenant

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London's Millbank Tower on the Thames has been sold to a property firm that owns the us Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Centre.

Tishman Speyer bought the tower from Legal & General for around £75 million and pledged to lavish 'tender love and care' on the 32-storey block of reinforced concrete and convex glass.

David Swan, development surveyor, said that som is rumoured to be looking to move into the tower, designed by Ronald Ward & Partners in 1963. 'It is nearly 100 per cent let for the next five years, and we are putting together a strategy for operation,' he said.

Roger Kallman, director of som, confirmed that the practice would move out of its offices in London's Berkeley Street next June. 'We are looking for space and have not decided where, but we need around 1200m2 of good studio space with good access,' he said. 'We could move into Millbank.'

He added that som also needs more space because it is expanding and hiring more staff. It currently employs around 55 people in its London office, and has a total workforce worldwide of around 1000.

Offices must be ready on time despite problems, say MPs

mps are insisting that Sir Michael Hopkins and Partners' design for offices for 200 mps must be finished on time, despite hold-ups caused by concrete problems.

Portcullis House, a £250 million building with 300 offices, is due to open in 2001. But the project team is 'urgently examining the scope for retrieving lost time', said Sir Sydney Chapman, chairman of the accommodation and works committee.

Some 15 weeks have been lost on building the frame and more delays are expected. This is due to the failure of in-situ concrete stitches joining sections of the precast concrete arches to reach the required strength, for unknown reasons.

'Death knell' sounds for out-of-town shopping centres

A detr report criticising out-of-town shopping centres has 'sounded their death knell,' say rural development experts. According to the report, big supermarkets outside town centres have up to halved the profits of town shops. Richard Caborn, minister for regions, regeneration and planning, said that local authorities need to update their plans and identify town centre sites. 'This research firmly establishes that out-of-town superstores can seriously damage the health of small towns and district areas. Arguments about clawing back trade and creating jobs simply do not hold water.'

'The Impact of Large Foodstores on Market Towns and Centres' also found that remote supermarkets attract much higher car-borne traffic. Tony Burton, assistant director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said: 'The death knell of out-of-town shopping has sounded. The government's support for town centres needs to be backed by levies on out-of-town retail parking and stronger recognition of the impact of superstores on village life.'

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