Society asks for US embassy to be listed

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Twentieth Century Society wants embassy and Centre:MK to be grade II*

English Heritage is considering listing the US embassy in central London and a Milton Keynes shopping centre following applications from conservation body the Twentieth Century Society.

The buildings are both earmarked for redevelopment and any decision to list will severely affect the plans.

The society, which has statutory consultee status, is set to submit an application to list the embassy in Grosvenor Square. Two weeks ago it submitted an application to English Heritage to list the Centre:MK, owned by Hermes and Prupim.

The society argues that the embassy is the only building in the UK by Eero Saarinen, the architect who designed JFK airport in New York. It is aiming for a grade II* listing, which experts say could knock 25% from the site’s value.

The embassy is considering a move from Grosvenor Square because of security fears (news, 23.02.07). It has appointed Knight Frank to sell the property once a new home has been found.

The property is expected to attract bids from luxury residential and hotel developers. Last month, retail entrepreneur Richard Caring bought the neighbouring 100,000 sq ft former US Navy block at 20 Grosvenor Square for £250m.

Work on the embassy began in August 1957 and the building was opened in September 1960.

In Milton Keynes Hermes and Prupim are set to submit an application to extend and redevelop the centre, which was built in 1979. This would involve moving the House of Fraser store at the centre.

English Heritage has already looked at a grade II* listing of the centre, but in 1988 it recommended a management agreement be put in place rather than a listing.

The Twentieth Century Society claims the management agreement has been eroded and that it should now have grade II* listing.

Jon Weymouth, development director of the Centre:MK, said: ‘We believe the management agreement works perfectly well and we will resist any calls for the centre to be listed. Our plans are supported by English Heritage and CABE.’

Roger Bowdler, head of designations at English Heritage, said: ‘The Twentieth Century Society and bodies like them have a particular role in the designation process. The government is committed to taking their roles seriously.’

English Heritage will investigate the applications but could not comment on a date of determination.

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