Tim Walker | The Telegraph | March 28, 2013
It is a building in which Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Kitchener, David Lloyd George and T E Lawrence all once toiled, but the Old War Office is about to be put on the market.
Mandrake hears that Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, has given internal approval for the sale of the 270,000 sq ft neo-baroque property, which, it is hoped, will raise around £100 million for the Exchequer. An official announcement is expected shortly.
"The building is in the heart of Whitehall and has the potential to be transformed into a £500 million hotel and residential development, so there is no shortage of interest," says my man at the Ministry of Defence.
"The plan is to sell it off before the 2015 election because staff can be satisfactorily accommodated elsewhere. It may be a historic building, but there is certainly not the appetite, in this environment, to stump up for it to be refurbished."
The decision to dispose of the 107-year-old building, which has 1,000 rooms over seven floors and more than two miles of corridors, follows a six-month review about whether to modernise it. The costs were considered to be "prohibitive".