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Hinduja group to turn UK's Old War Office building into a hotel

December 13, 2014 10:54 IST

Image: UK's iconic Old War Office building. Photograph: Courtesy, ChrisO/Wikimedia Commons
 
 

The Hinduja Group, in partnership with a Spanish industrial company, has acquired UK's iconic Old War Office building that was once occupied by the country's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The historic building was acquired by the Hinduja Group, headed by NRI entrepreneurs S P Hinduja, Chairman, and G P Hinduja, Co-Chairman, in partnership with Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD).

The landmark building at 57 Whitehall in central London will now be restored and re-developed into a five star hotel and residential apartments, and will also feature a series of private function rooms as well as a spa and fitness facility.

Previously inaccessible to the public, a commitment has also been made to grant new access to the building with an outdoor public space also part of the re-development plans.

Britain's Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Hinduja Group, in partnership with OHLD, who's main shareholder is Grupo Villar Mir, have been successful in the acquisition of the Old War Office.

The 580,000 square-feet property, marketed as 57 Whitehall was sold on a 250-year lease arrangement to the companies for an undisclosed sum following a competetive marketing process, the Defence Ministry said.

Srichand P Hinduja and Gopichand P Hinduja, on behalf of the company, said, "We will make every efforts to honour the heritage and restoration of this national monument, elevate its status and reconnect it with the public."

"We will forge a new future for the site, creating a vibrant and sustainable destination that retains and enhances the historical importance of the building. We are proud to be playing such a crucial role in this new chapter for the Old War Office," the Hinduja brothers said.

Juan-Miguel Villar-Mir, Chair of the OHLD Group and Grupo Villar Mir, said: "We are very proud to be participating in one of the most important development projects in the world."

"We have a thorough understanding and appreciation of heritage and conservation issues and our commitment now as custodians of this landmark building is to leverage its untapped historical value and potential cultural and social significance," he said.

Once the office of Churchill, the building was constructed in the years between the start of the 20th century and the outbreak of the First World War.

With an almost incalculable contribution to the history and heritage of Whitehall, the Old War Office has been witness to events of utmost importance, most notably the World Wars, with crucial decisions having been taken within its walls, especially significant in this centenary year of remembrance.

As the historical, architectural and social importance of the building cannot be underestimated, both strategic partners will use their considerable experience in the re-development of heritage properties and work closely with English heritage and specially chosen restoration experts to ensure the building is accorded the respect it deserves.

Recent examples of their expertise in this area include the restoration of Carlton House Terrace in London by the Hinduja Group and OHLD's Canalejas project in central Madrid.

The lead investor on this project is the Hinduja Group of Companies, one of the largest diversified business groups in the world with a multi-billion pound turnover, employing over 80,000 people in more than 100 countries.

Their partners Grupo Villar Mir, is one of the largest privately owned Spanish industrial groups, with a major international presence and a diversified portfolio of activities.

Co-developer OHLD has unique and significant international experience in the development of the highest category of mixed use real estate projects with heritage and natural preservation sensitivities. 

H S Rao in London
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