Sheppard Robson’s plans to transform the former London home of the Royal Mint look doomed following the sale of the building to the Chinese government – which wants to base its new embassy there
The practice’s plans to turn the 2.1ha Royal Mint Court site into 51,000m² of offices and 4,600m² of shops were granted permission in 2016, but building work has yet to start.
The building was owned by a joint venture that included real-estate investor Delancey. Now it has sold the building, a brand new planning application is likely.
Delancey managing director Paul Goswell said: ‘Delancey, along with its partner LRC Group, was fully committed to building out the office development, having spent the last four years designing the scheme in conjunction with Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority, both of whom have been constructive and supportive throughout the process.
‘However, the scale of the buildings, coupled with the unparalleled history and large area of amenity and public realm, make it one of a kind in the City of London and undeniably perfect for the needs of a prestigious embassy.
‘We wish the People’s Republic of China all the very best in their new London home.’
Last year Morrow + Lorraine and urban design specialist Spacehub were brought in to replace Martha Schwartz Partners on the landscaping at the heart of the Royal Mint Court site close to the Tower of London.
Morrow + Lorraine had already been working with Sheppard Robson on the project, overseeing the revamp of the 200-year-old Grade II*-listed Johnson Smirke Building on the plot.
Nobody from Delancey or the Chinese government was willing to comment on the future of the existing scheme.
It is unclear whether an architect has yet been appointed on the embassy project.
In 2008, the country opened a new embassy in Washington, USA, designed by Chien Chung (CC) and Li Chung Pei of Pei Partnership Architects, sons of IM Pei, who served as consultant on that project.