19 April 2016 – The Times
It is where New Labour planned its election victory and was the focus of window-smashing students’ fury during protests against a rise in tuition fees, but now an altogether more peaceful, and less political, future beckons for London’s Millbank Tower. The grade II listed, 118-metre skyscraper overlooking the Thames is to be converted into luxury flats.
Last week David and Simon Reuben, the billionaire property investors, were awarded planning permission by Westminster council to redevelop the tower into 207 flats and yesterday they confirmed that would go ahead with the plan. A 150-bedroom five-star hotel also will be built, as well as a three- storey cultural centre and public gardens.
A spokesman for the brothers said that the area half a mile from the Houses of Parliament had changed from a “prime office location”, when Millbank was built in 1963, to become “increasingly residential”.
The tower was one of the first buildings to rise above St Paul’s Cathedral in the capital and it became a favourite location for filming Doctor Who. In the 1973 horror film The Vault of Horror, the tower posed as the entrance to Hell.It was at Millbank that the Labour party ran its 1997 general election campaign “Operation Victory” and subsequently the site became the party’s headquarters. Within months of Labour moving in, Millbank became known as the home of spin. The £1 million-a-year rent forced Labour to move out in 2002.
The United Nations also had offices in the tower, but it moved out in June 2003, also citing high rental costs. In 2006 the Conservative party moved to the building, which was attacked by student protestors four years later during protests over tuition fees. The Tories moved out in 2014.
Motcomb Estates, the property division of the Reuben Brothers’ empire, bought the 350,000 sq ft Millbank Tower from Tishman Speyer for £115 million in 2002. A spokesman for the brothers said that the building’s tenants had three-year lease agreements, meaning that the new complex “will not be delivered until some years down the line. We continue to monitor the market and the scheme and may decide at a later date to retain some offices as part of the overall scheme, subject to market and planning conditions.”