U.S. Considers Moving London Embassy for Security of Local Area

Despite start of perimeter security project, embassy may move to protect local neighborhood


The U.S. Embassy said Thursday it is considering moving to a different part of London after a residents' group expressed fears that they could be harmed if terrorists tried to bomb the building.

The embassy said it was considering moving despite beginning a $15 million project in November to upgrade perimeter security its current building in the Mayfair area.

"The U.S. Embassy is assessing various property management options, among which are continued possession of its current premises or relocation," the statement said. "The U.S. Embassy has made no decisions and is in a very preliminary stage of this process."

An alliance of nearby residents calling itself the Grosvenor Square Safety Group took out a two-page advertisement in The Times of London and The Washington Post in July accusing the government and police of "moral failure" for not closing the streets around the building.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, some residents have claimed the embassy's security plans put them at risk, with concrete blast barriers protecting the building at the expense of surrounding houses, which residents said would become "collateral damage ... should a terrorist explosive device go off."

The embassy has been housed at its current location since 1960. The building, whose architect also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, has 600 rooms and nine floors with working space for about 750 employees.


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