US embassy to move from Grosvenor Square after 200 years to industrial estate

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After more than 200 years of association with Grosvenor Square, the US will establish a new high security base in Nine Elms, Wandsworth, in the south of the city.

Known more for Battersea Power Station and its rescue home for cats and dogs, the primarily industrial area will see the construction of a state-of-the-art secure compound.

Ambassador Robert Tuttle said security fears had played a major role in the decision to move but also the current embassy had reached its limits as an office building with a staff of 800.

"This has been a long and careful process," he said. "We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building."...

The current embassy was always an oddity in the US diplomatic set-up because of the lease arrangement with the Duke of Westminster -- virtually every other major mission is owned outright by the US.

The Duke reportedly said he would only sell if the US government returned his family's land, confiscated during the American War of Independence.

His property company the Grosvenor Group refused to comment on the move.

American links with the square date back to the 1780s when John Adams lived in London before becoming US president.

The embassy has been there since 1938 and moved into the present nine-storey building - with its distinctive golden eagle on the roof - in 1960.

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